Community action, unity stressed at UN-backed peace event in Lashkar Gah
LASHKAR GAH - To strategize on practical steps toward improving security and fostering economic development in Helmand, one of Afghanistan’s most restive provinces, community leaders gathered at a UN-backed symposium in the provincial capital.
At the event, organized by UNAMA’s Kandahar regional office, participants underscored the need for unity and community action to address the southern province’s most pressing issues, including unemployment.
“We should initiate peace at the local level to address the broader issues the province is facing,” said Haji Athiqullah, a community leader who called for a more consultative, inclusive and decentralized approach to the national peace process.
Strong agreement came from other participants, including women’s rights activist Shagofa, who spoke forcefully in support of local action to address “corruption, unemployment and lawlessness,” which she identified as major obstacles for peace and stability in the province.
In Helmand, clashes between government forces and insurgents have led to damage of local infrastructure, in particular to schools, healthcare clinics and agricultural facilities. Helmand, Afghanistan’s largest province, shares a border with Pakistan to the south and is home to roughly one million people, most of whom work in rural, agricultural communities.
The event’s participants, most of whom came from the Nawa-e Barakzai district on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, decided to carry the discussion forward in other districts to develop practical ways to address insecurity, unemployment and corruption.