14 June 2017

Opening remarks to the press in Kabul

António Guterres

Secretary-General António Guterres speaks to reporters on the outskirts of Kabul, where he met with some of the 800,000 Afghans displaced by conflict in last 18 months. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

I have an enormous admiration for the courage and the resilience of the Afghan people.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.
This visit is essentially a visit of solidarity with the Afghan people in the holy month of Ramadan.
During the years in which I was High Commissioner for Refugees, every year, during Ramadan, I visited a Muslim country, fasting and expressing my solidarity and my respect for the culture and religion of the people of that country. I decided as Secretary-General to maintain the same practice, and so this is my first visit of solidarity in Ramadan. And I believe that Afghanistan is the right place to do it, as we had, just a few days ago, a terrible couple of dramatic terrorist acts that more than justify my total solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and my deep condolences to the families of the victims. 
This morning I started my visit, as it is normal and adequate, with a one-hour meeting with the displaced people in one of the internal displacement camps around Kabul -- people that fled the horrors of the conflict and that came to seek safety in the capital city. The women and men I met spoke of their houses destroyed and members of their families being killed - one of the members of the group had just had his brother killed - but they also spoke about the will to rebuild their life, the will to have their children in school and the will to go back home as soon as peace is re-established and security is re-established.  I have an enormous admiration for the courage and the resilience of the Afghan people, and they were very eloquently demonstrated in my meeting this morning.
I also want to thank His Excellency the President and the Chief Executive Officer for the two meetings that I was able to have and in which we went through all the key aspects of cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Afghanistan.  In our discussions, obviously, we had in the centre the deteriorating security situation in the country and the need to better mobilize the international community in counter-terrorism. 
I just visited the five countries of Central Asia, and yesterday in Turkmenistan, we had the opportunity to gather the Ministers of the five countries in one very important meeting to reaffirm the Central Asian Counter-terrorism UN Strategy and the cooperation among the five countries to defeat terrorist infiltrations and attacks in the region.  The Ambassador of Afghanistan was present, and I think it is very important to underline that Afghanistan is not only suffering the impact of a national insurgency, but it is suffering the presence of a large number of terrorist groups of all kind of nationalities from around the world. I hope the General Assembly of the United Nations will approve next week the reform of our counter-terrorism structure and I hope that with this reform, the UN will be much more effective in supporting Member States in the fight against terrorism.
Upon arrival in New York, I will be briefing the Security Council on my mission, the results of my mission and all the concerns that were expressed to me by the President and by the Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan.
We have also discussed the ways the UN can support the dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours and other countries in its struggle against terrorism and for security,  but we also discussed how the UN can better support Afghanistan in relation to humanitarian aid and in relation to the Government’s project to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the development strategy that was agreed among all countries in the world; the support to internally displaced persons and also the support to the reintegration into the Afghan society of refugees coming back to the country and also how best can the UN support the possibility of a peace process, but also the institutional evolution of the country, the stability of the country  and simultaneously how best we can support all the mechanisms in order to improve governance and the protection of human rights.