Avoid politicisation of humanitarian work, India tells UNSC

Published on Jul 16, 2021 09:21 PM IST

The UN body must assist national authorities to strengthen their legal frameworks for protecting humanitarian workers: Indian foreign secretary

A worker holds bags and a box of humanitarian aid in Idlib, Syria. (REUTERS)
A worker holds bags and a box of humanitarian aid in Idlib, Syria. (REUTERS)

India on Friday urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to “avoid the politicisation of humanitarian work and humanitarian actors” in conflict situations and they should not be used as a ploy to undermine the territorial integrity of countries.

“Too often we have seen humanitarian assistance being linked to coercive measures by external players in order to force outcomes desired by them,” said Indian foreign security Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who is on a two-day visit to New York, during a UN Security Council briefing on protection of civilians in armed conflict.

“Such actions run the risk of being counter-productive to achieving a resolution of the conflict itself and could further shrink the necessary space for much needed humanitarian action or assistance,” he added.

According to reports, 99 humanitarian workers were killed in the last one year. Extending India’s condolences to their families, the foreign secretary called on member states to undertake all measures mandated by the Security Council to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers.

To ensure accountability for serious violations, Shringla said the UN body must assist national authorities to strengthen their legal frameworks for protecting humanitarian workers and also consider sanctioning violation such as attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel.

But, he cautioned, “such measures should have wider regional and international support, in the absence of which, there may be further deterioration of the humanitarian crisis and shrinking of the humanitarian space”. As it was happening in Syria, where, he added, it had a “worsening impact of such measures on humanitarian operations on the ground”.

The foreign secretary went on to reiterate India’s commitment to “working with the international community to address global humanitarian challenges in an effective and comprehensive manner”.

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