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Weekly News Update August 16 - 20, 2021

Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on Afghanistan

The people of Afghanistan need our support now more than ever. Our organizations are committed to helping and protecting them. We will stay in Afghanistan and we will deliver. At the start of 2021, half the population of Afghanistan – including more than 4 million women and nearly 10 million children – already needed humanitarian assistance. One third of the population was facing crisis and emergency levels of acute food insecurity and more than half of all children under 5 years of age were malnourished. Those needs have risen sharply because of conflict, drought, and COVID-19. Since the end of May, the number of people internally displaced because of conflict and in need of immediate humanitarian aid more than doubled, reaching 550,000. We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for all parties (including the Taliban) to cease all violence and comply with international humanitarian law and human rights. They must allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers – both male and female staff – so they can deliver aid to civilians in need wherever they are. The humanitarian operation will also depend on funding, movement within, to and from Afghanistan, and access to health facilities. The critical role of front-line humanitarian organizations must be supported. All parties must protect civilians and respect the rights and freedoms of all. Today we reiterate our commitment to promoting the rights of everyone in Afghanistan, including women and girls. Important gains made in recent years – including on gender equality and girls’ access to a quality education – must be preserved. And much more needs to be done to realize the rights of women and girls. We will continue to engage to make sure this happens. Civilians must also be allowed to seek safety and protection, including the right to seek asylum. We call on Governments to keep borders open to receive Afghan refugees fleeing from violence and persecution and refrain from deportations. This is not the time to abandon the Afghan people. Member States must provide all possible support to Afghan nationals at risk, including a moratorium on repatriations. We urge neighbouring countries to ensure the protection of Afghans displaced across their borders. We call on donors to remain steadfast in their support for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and to support resilient livelihoods. The humanitarian community reached almost 8 million people in the first half of 2021 with aid. Timely funding saves lives, protects livelihoods, eases suffering and prevents further displacement. A total of US$1.3 billion is required to reach almost 16 million people with humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan; only 37 per cent of required funds have been received, leaving a shortfall of almost $800 million. The international community has spent decades working with the people of Afghanistan to make progress. Now the international community must continue to support the people of Afghanistan if those gains are not to be reversed. Humanitarian funding must be sustained. Now, as always, we remain committed to the people of Afghanistan and will do everything possible to stay and provide assistance, especially to the most vulnerable. *** Signatories

  • Mr. Sean Callahan, President and the Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

  • Mr. Dominic MacSorley, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide

  • Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • Mr. Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)

  • Mr. Samuel Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterAction

  • Mr. António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

  • Mr. Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

  • Ms. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

  • Ms. Abby Maxman, Chair, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR)

  • Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat)

  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

  • Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

  • Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)

  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)



Alistair Fernie appointed Chief Executive of The Elders

The Elders is delighted to announce the appointment of Alistair Fernie as its new Chief Executive. Alistair will take up the role at the beginning of November 2021. He will manage the London-based Secretariat and lead the international work of the organisation.

Alistair joins The Elders following a 25-year career in international development, humanitarian aid and human rights. He has worked in senior roles with the UK Department for International Development, and as a diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a strategy consultant with both McKinsey and his own company (Global Goals), an aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières, and a human rights campaigner with Amnesty International.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, said:

“Following an extensive global search, I am extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Alistair Fernie as our new Chief Executive. Alistair has extensive experience of working around the world in a wide range of roles in government, the not-for-profit sector and international consultancy. His knowledge of, and leadership experience in, international development at the highest level make him the ideal candidate to take The Elders forward in this critical decade for our planet, peace, justice and human rights.”

Alistair has spent over a decade living in developing countries, as well as time at the United Nations in New York. His expertise and leadership experience include climate change, post-conflict reconstruction, multilateral diplomacy, governance, and strategic and organisational change. Alistair said:

“I’m honoured to be asked to lead the Secretariat team supporting The Elders. The wisdom of the long view that The Elders can bring to the world’s toughest challenges has never been needed more. “With climate change, conflict and COVID demanding more not less international cooperation, Nelson Mandela’s values of hope and moral courage are as relevant as ever. I hope my experience in the public, private and civil society sectors across five continents can help The Elders realise their vision of a safer and fairer world.”

Alistair succeeds David Nussbaum, who will be retiring as Chief Executive at the end of October.

About The Elders The Elders are independent leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide. The group was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. The Elders are Ban Ki-moon (Deputy Chair), Gro Harlem Brundtland, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, Hina Jilani, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ricardo Lagos, Graça Machel (Deputy Chair), Juan Manuel Santos, Mary Robinson (Chair) and Ernesto Zedillo. Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are Elders Emeritus. Kofi Annan (1938-2018) was a founding member of The Elders and served as Chair from 2013 to 2018.


UN Secretary-General on Afghanistan, Haiti and Ethiopia - Security Council Stakeout (19 August 2021)


Afghanistan: World Food, UNICEF, High Commissioner for Refugees - Press Conference (18 August 2021)



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