All fighting parties have obligation to protect civilians, say Jalalabad TV panelists

17 Mar 2019

All fighting parties have obligation to protect civilians, say Jalalabad TV panelists

JALALABAD – Civilians must be protected from the effects of conflict, emphasized by participants at a UN-backed television roundtable in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Panelists in the discussion- representatives from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), civil society, ulema and military- called on parties to the conflict to solve the problems through discussions, not violence. They also noted that parties have an obligation to protect civilians from the effects of conflict.

One of the speakers, Habibullah Jalalabadi, Mula Imam of Haj Awqaf Mosque, stressed the need for protecting human life in religious teachings. “Islam is a religion of peace and tranquility, and never allows killing or injuring innocent people,” said Jalalabadi.

He added that the findings of UNAMA’s 2018 Protection of Civilians Report, particularly the recommendations that focus on prevention of civilian casualties, should be an inspiration for Friday sermons.

Another panelist, Sabrina Hameedi, the Head of AIHRC in eastern Afghanistan said that the Commission conducts workshops on international humanitarian law for Afghan National Security Forces to enhance their capacity to protect civilians. The Commission also partners with local media to broadcast messages on rights of civilians and obligations of the parties to the conflict, reaching remote areas and anti-government elements.

“Increased civilian casualties is a major human rights concern. Parties to the armed conflict must respect international humanitarian law. Civilians must be protected,” reiterated Hameedi.

The audience in the studio - human rights activists, victims of armed conflict, and youth - shared concerns about the widespread impact of the armed conflict on their daily lives. All the participants called upon the parties to stop killing civilians and ensure respect for legal obligations and Sharia law during the fighting.

In the 2018 Protection of Civilians Report, published in February, UNAMA documented a total of 10,993 civilian casualties - 3,804 deaths and 7,189 injured.  Among the dead were 927 children, the highest recorded number of boys and girls killed in the conflict in a single year.

The eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar have seen a worrying increase in civilian casualties. The conflict also continues to undermine civilians’ access to education, health, and a range of other human rights.

The roundtable was organized by UNAMA’s regional office in Jalalabad and aired by media partners Sharq TV and Sharq Radio, reaching an estimated audience of 500,000 people in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces and the surrounding districts.