Aid to Afghanistan, Syria, vaccine equity top UNSC agenda in 2021

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Aid to Afghanistan and Syria, as well as vaccine equity demands were high on the 2021 agenda of the UN Security Council (UNSC), which was grappling with more issues as the Covid-19 pandemic caused various problems including an economic fallout, the UNSC said.

Convening a total of 246 public meetings, the 15-member council has adopted 57 resolutions and 24 presidential statements in 2021, an UNSC statement said on Tuesday, adding that members have shown solidarity and unity on several fraught issues such as reauthorising Syria’s cross-border aid delivery mechanism in July, and exempting humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan from an asset freeze against designated leaders of the Taliban and associated entities.

The exemption was aimed at pulling the war-torn country back from the brink of economic collapse, the UNSC said. “Perhaps no single nation’s trajectory was as dramatic in 2021 as that of Afghanistan,” the statement added, Xinhua news agency reported.

As the country was likely to see another round of chaos, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in an emergency meeting, told the council that the world body would not abandon the Afghan people, and its personnel would “stay and deliver” critically needed services during their time of need.

In 2021, Syria saw a largely calm year on the military front, despite large spikes in hunger, chronic malnutrition, and other grave humanitarian challenges, the statement said.

According to figures from humanitarian institutes, around 13.4 million people across the country required humanitarian assistance, 20 percent more than in 2020.

Special envoy Geir O. Pedersen expressed profound regret that the Council had not yet been able to broker an end to the fighting and urged more creative diplomacy, stressing that Syrians had endured unspeakable horrors, the statement added.

In addition, delegates widely cautioned against what was becoming a “lopsided” recovery from the pandemic, with safe and effective vaccines available in only some exclusive parts of the globe, the UNSC said.

Guterres has called for efforts of the council to address the rollout of vaccines, which he termed the “biggest moral test before the global community”, it added.

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