Action on peace and development in Afghanistan is imperative, says UN envoy
NEW YORK - An immediate push for peace and development is now imperative to end suffering and put the Afghan people on a path to progress, said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan at United Nations headquarters today.
“A major challenge is at hand,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “The Government has to pursue both an inclusive peace process and economic growth against the backdrop of an intensifying insurgency.”
In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr Yamamoto called on the Afghan Government, together with the international community, to “work hand-in-hand to make a discernible change in the lives of all Afghans so they feel the upward lift of economic and social progress.”
On peace, Mr Yamamoto spoke about UN efforts to rally Afghanistan’s neighbours to recognize their own stake in the process, while at the same time recognizing that the Taliban can be a part of the country’s long-term future.
“I travelled the region extensively to discuss how neighbouring countries can support and play a proactive role in peace efforts,” said the UN envoy. “I urge the countries concerned, particularly in the neighbourhood, to support the Afghan Government’s interest in an intensified regional peace effort.”
While reiterating the UN’s long-standing call for peace talks with no preconditions, Mr Yamamoto offered that Afghans and the world should be ready to accept the Taliban back into society. “The Government, neighbouring countries and other key powers should reinforce the message that the Taliban can be part of Afghanistan’s future, and its political and social fabric,” he said.
To underscore the suffering of the Afghan people and the need for peace, the UN envoy detailed the rising civilian casualty numbers as documented by UNAMA’s own recent annual report. “I am gravely concerned about reports pointing to an intense spring fighting season,” he added.
Rounding out his urgent call for action, Mr Yamamoto said: “We all need to make peace our new and absolute imperative.” Afghanistan’s most important battle ahead, he concluded, is the one for a lasting peace.