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World leaders face concern over regional conflicts at UNGA

  • 25 Sep 2021

India's prime minister warned the United Nations that no country should exploit the turmoil in Afghanistan for its own advantage as Haiti leader said migration would not end unless inequality did.

Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry remotely addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly by pre-recorded video on September 25, 2021. ( AFP )

World leaders faced global concern at the UN's annual meeting over regional conflicts as state and government heads from various regions addressed the Assembly on the fourth day.

In today’s world, few conflicts stay local. There’s India’s fight over the Kashmir region with bitter rival Pakistan, Haiti’s inner turmoil spilling into a migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border and questions about the Ethiopian government’s role in reported starvation deaths in the Tigray region.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spent part of the week meeting with US officials to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific, was measured in his push back against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scathing rhetoric that landed hours earlier.

Modi called upon the international community to help the women, children and minorities of Afghanistan and said that it was imperative the country not be used as a base from which to spread terror.

“We also need to be alert and ensure that no country tries to take advantage of the delicate situation there, and use it as a tool for its own selfish interests,” he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan, wedged in between Afghanistan and India.

READ MORE: 'We are on the edge of an abyss': UNGA kicks off amid Covid, climate crisis

Future of Afghan government 

Khan on Friday had, once again, labeled Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “fascist” and railed against India’s crackdown on Kashmir, the disputed region divided between each country but claimed by both.

Khan also told the General Assembly that the Taliban have promised to respect human rights and build an inclusive government since taking over last month, despite global disappointment in a caretaker cabinet.

"If the world community incentivises them, and encourages them to walk this talk, it will be a win-win situation for everyone," he said.

"We must strengthen and stabilise the current government, for the sake of the people of Afghanistan."

The Indian government has raised concerns that the chaos left in the wake of the US's military withdrawal from Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan and feed the long-simmering insurgency in Kashmir, where militants already have a foothold.

'Migration won't end unless inequality does'

Amid an outcry over the US treatment of Haitian asylum-seekers, the beleaguered island country's embattled prime minister pointedly said that inequalities and conflict drive migration, but he stopped short of directly criticising Washington over the issue.

“We do not wish to challenge the right of a sovereign state to control the entry borders into its territory, or to send back to the country of origin those who enter a country illegally,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry said in a video speech to the UN General Assembly.

But “human beings, fathers and mothers who have children, are always going to flee poverty and conflict,” he added.

“Migration will continue as long as the planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world’s population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospects of a better life.”

Moreover, “we believe that many countries which are prosperous today have been built through successive waves of migrants and refugees,” he added.

This week, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned in protest of “inhumane” large-scale US expulsions of Haitian migrants. 

Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination.

Russia urges US action on Iran nuclear deal

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on the United States to take a more active approach to help resume stalled talks aimed to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

"It seems evident they should be more active" in "resolving all issues related" to the accord, Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations in New York.

Lavrov added that he hoped negotiations in Vienna among Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany would resume "as soon as possible."

Tigray clashes

Ethiopia is also addressing the largest gathering of world leaders on Saturday and faces the pressure of global concern for its Tigray region.

The UN has warned of famine in the embattled corner of northern Ethiopia, calling it the world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade. 

Starvation deaths have been reported since the government in June imposed what the UN calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.”

READ MORE: Day 3 of UNGA: Leaders highlight disparity in Covid vaccine availability

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