Shkula Zadran, Afghanistan’s youth representative at the United Nations, speaks to the United States Security Council. She said her generation was the main victim of the war in Afghanistan. “We are killed, our dreams are buried every day,” she told the Security Council. Courtesy: UN Photo / Loey FelipeBONN, Germany, December 18 (IPS) – As Afghanistan ended a historic year, filled with hope for peace, the government and the Taliban met for the first time in 19 for nearly three months Years composed of consecutive peace talks, it was also a year of violence, with preliminary United Nations statistics showing casualties that year were higher than 2019.
Yesterday, December 17th, in a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council, Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Aid Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), praised the peace efforts at the end of “One of the Most Significant Years of the Afghans have experienced “while highlighting the causalities of the year.
She said the Afghan government and the Taliban have made “incremental but real progress” in their peace talks. They reached a tentative deal, supposedly the first written agreement in 19 years of conflict.
“These developments are an early but positive sign that both sides are willing and able to compromise if necessary,” said Lyons.
Talks in host country Qatar continued for almost three months without a break, but are currently on a three-week break.
Despite the talks, the Taliban rejected a ceasefire and continued their war against the Afghan government.
However, it was reported this week that a senior US general had recently held talks with the Taliban in Doha calling for a reduction in violence as it jeopardized the peace process.
Lyon also raised the issue, stating that “the relentless violence remains a serious obstacle to peace and a threat to the region”. She added that an Afghan official recently told her, “The feeling and perception of violence and insecurity are now higher than ever.”
While UNAMA is still compiling this year’s data, Lyon has provided some preliminary statistics on the impact of the violence.
“In October and November improvised explosive devices (IEDs) caused over 60 percent more civilian casualties than in the same period last year. In the third quarter of 2020, child casualties rose 25 percent in the last three months. while attacks on schools quadrupled over the same period.
“In the first eleven months of 2020, targeted killings by anti-government elements rose nearly 40 percent compared to the same period last year,” she said, adding that it was no surprise that the Global Peace Index for 2020 listed Afghanistan as the country on least peaceful nation in the world for a second consecutive year.
She highlighted some of the conflicts that had emerged in recent months – two separate rocket attacks in Kabul, an attack on Kabul University, and the growing conflict in some areas – and said these had contributed to fears of the emergence of new terrorists Amplify threats.
She called on all countries to continue to exert pressure on all conflict parities in order to bring about a sustainable reduction in violence. “I suppose this will be the top priority when negotiations are restarted,” she said.
Meanwhile, Shkula Zadran, Afghanistan’s youth commissioner to the United States, also briefed the Security Council.
She said that “while it is very difficult to represent a generation born and raised in violence and conflict,” it was an honor for her to speak on behalf of Afghan youth, including those involved in the terrorist attack on the university Kabul and other educational centers were killed.
“I met their families. Your pain is beyond our imagination. I promised them that I would be their voice and that I would keep my promise, ”Zadran, who spent her childhood as a refugee in Pakistan, told the Security Council.
“I represent a generation who were the main victims of this proxy war. We are being killed, our dreams are buried every day.”
She called for an end to the daily murders of Afghan youth, who make up the majority of the country’s population, as two-thirds of its citizens are under the age of 25.
“Terrorists are afraid of Afghan youth. And that’s why they’re targeting our educational institutions.
They know that an educated and informed generation will never allow terrorism and extremism to grow in their country, ”said Zadran.
Zadran said her message to terrorists and their supporters as an Afghan youth representative was clear and obvious.
“You tried to bury us. You didn’t know we were seeds. ”
Zadran said the youth supported the end of the conflict through the peace negotiations.
Lyons said Afghanistan’s youth are a key group and also the most educated generation of youth in the country’s history.
“Young Afghans have clear views about the future of their country and we must do everything we can to strengthen their voices.”
“Through our youth-oriented local peace initiatives, which are carried out all over Afghanistan, UNAMA has provided young people in Afghanistan with a platform on which they can express their views on peace,” said Lyon.
“Most recently, young participants in rural Faryab Province made their own statement with strong recommendations specifying an immediate ceasefire, the role of Islam in the Afghan constitution, identifying key goals for sustainable development and stressing the need for transition Justice.
“These are the young people in Afghanistan whose voices deserve to be heard,” said Lyons.
Lyon also noted an increasing commitment by regional actors to peace in Afghanistan, as this was linked to achieving peace in the region.
She added that cooperation across the Central and South Asia region will be essential for lasting peace.
“Increased trade and connectivity will lay the foundation for peace and regional prosperity,” Lyons said, adding that it was important to support regional efforts, including regional drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime efforts, as these pose two serious threats to were considered the peace.
Lyon said that any lasting peace must be owned by the diverse Afghan society. “This is only possible if the process is inclusive from the start and if all constituencies, including women, youth, minorities, victims of conflict and religious leaders, have meaningful participation,” said Lyons.
She added that the ongoing security transition with the withdrawal of international troops heightened concerns among the Afghan people. She said that this major security transition will become a key issue in the dialogue between Afghan officials, regional countries and the international community in the coming months.
However, she noted that the $ 3 billion in financial assistance raised for the country during a donor conference in Geneva was noteworthy in the context of the current financial environment.
Lyons said the full security transition, the peace negotiations, the health and socio-economic challenges of COVID, the continued engagement of international donors and the expected results of even stronger regional cooperation all meant that Afghanistan would move forward this new year.
“After all, this was a great year. But there is a bigger year ahead of us, ”she said.
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