On Indian food aid to Afghanistan, UN says humanitarian help should arrive 'swiftly'

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General Antonio GuterresFile

United Nations, Dec 8: The UN wants humanitarian aid to arrive quickly anywhere where it is needed, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has said when asked about Pakistan holding up medicines and 50,000 tonnes of wheat that India wants to send to Afghanistan.

"We would want to see, obviously, humanitarian aid to arrive where it needs anywhere around the world as swiftly as possible," Dujarric said on Tuesday without directly referring to the Afghan situation. He added, "Let me check with our humanitarian colleagues." Guterres has repeatedly issued dire warnings about a looming food crisis that could lead to starvation deaths in the country now in the grip of the Taliban.

But there appears to have been no open international intervention to get the readily available food to Afghanistan from India. Pakistan has refused to allow Indian trucks carrying aid through its territory to landlocked Afghanistan.

India insists that Pakistan should not impose conditions on the delivery of food aid.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said last month, "We believe that humanitarian assistance should not be subject to conditionalities." He also raised the matter at the trilateral meeting with Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Wang Yi of China telling them that the three "countries need to work together to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the Afghan people without hindrance and without politicisation."

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