KABUL - Last week H.E. First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Deborah Lyons held their first meeting since assuming their respective offices. Together they discussed the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts on people’s lives in Afghanistan. Both agreed that the collective efforts of all Afghans are needed to tackle this pandemic that has already killed nearly a quarter million people around the world.
Vice-President Saleh affirmed that the government wants to hold regular strategic meetings with the United Nations on the Covid-19 response to maximize the contribution of UN agencies and ensure full coordination with the government's efforts.
Special Representative Lyons’ discussions with Vice-President Saleh took place after she had held consultations with President Ashraf Ghani who has designated his first vice president to lead the government’s relation and coordination with the UN agencies.
Special Representative Lyons, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), recognized the government’s leadership role to date, and acknowledged the importance of the eight priorities which the government has identified. This work has already established a detailed plan for the health sector by the Ministry of Public Health, and would soon lead to plans in the other priority areas. The United Nations will work in support of such plans in key areas such as health, education, food-security and livelihoods, as well as returnees and internally displaced people.
Vice-President Saleh asked the United Nations to respect and support the government's leadership in handling this crisis and invited the Special Representative and the Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer, to join him in attending the Inter-ministerial Emergency Committee and in creating a joint framework for action whereby United Nations' agencies can work closely in support of individual ministries. Special Representative Lyons highlighted the need for deep collaboration with all partners to create a united front against Covid-19.