Civilians must be protected harm, stress Kunar leaders in UN-backed TV programme

A local bread shop in Asadabad, the provincial capital of Kunar province in Afghanistan’s eastern region. File photo: UNAMA / Fardin Waezi

27 Oct 2019

Civilians must be protected harm, stress Kunar leaders in UN-backed TV programme

ASADABAD - As the conflict in Afghanistan continues, civilians must be protected from harm, stressed participants at a UN-backed event later broadcast to audiences in and around Asadabad, the capital of the eastern province of Kunar.

In the lively roundtable-style discussion, government and civil society representatives, along with human rights activists, highlighted the impact of the conflict on ordinary Afghans and expressed concern at the number of civilians killed and injured in the ongoing conflict.

“The war has a severe impact on the lives and daily routines of ordinary people,” said Tahzeebullah Muhazab, a civil society member. “Parties to the conflict must do their best to respect international law and take all necessary precautions to protect civilians from harm.”

In Kunar, as in other provinces across Afghanistan, the socio-economic impact of the conflict on communities has been severe, with many families displaced from their homes and unable to access health or education services or to find meaningful employment opportunities.

Figures released on 17 October 2019 by UNAMA showed record-high levels of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the third quarter of 2019, with an overall total of 8,239 civilian casualties (2,563 killed and 5,676 injured) documented in the first nine months of the year.

“Killing innocent people is strictly prohibited in Islam,” said Gul Shahzada, another panellist. “Fighting in Afghanistan must not cause civilians to be killed or injured.”

Shahzada, a legal professional, said he appreciated the efforts of the United Nations in promoting respect for human rights and called on all international organizations to support civilians. He also called on the parties to the conflict to recognize their obligations in respecting civilian life.

The event, supported by UNAMA’s Jalalabad regional office, was recorded by Zala TV and broadcast by television and radio to an audience estimated at 700,000 people in and around Asadabad.

UNAMA continues to work with advocacy groups and institutions – including provincial councils, religious leaders, youth groups, women’s groups and local media outlets – to create platforms, using radio, social media and television, to enable Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.

At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussions and debates for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.

In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.