Community leaders in the south stress intra-Afghan peace dialogue
HELMAND - Community leaders from the Nawa and Nadali districts of Helmand province came together to discuss local communities’ role in the broader peace process, part of a series of peace dialogues organized across Afghanistan’s southern region.
Supported by UNAMA’s Kandahar office, the gathering provided an opportunity for local leaders, civil society, Ulema, youth and women to discuss conflict-drivers and propose practical solutions, building upon their previous meetings conducted through 2018.
Haji Obaidullah, a community leader from Nadali, opined that a peace dialogue should be Afghan-led and Afghan owned. “The conflict is among Afghans and they are the ones to make peace with each other,” said Obaidullah.
While recognizing the complex and challenging situation in the province -which is impacted by the illicit drug trade, the presence of warlords and militias, poverty, lack of jobs, internal displacement of people, illiteracy and other factors- the participants looked ahead and found common ground in a shared belief that peace processes should be inclusive, involving all strata in dialogue.
Haji Ghulam Mohammad Ishaqzai, a local elder from Nahr-e-Saraj, spoke about the urgent need for peace given the heavy price paid by province residents.
“Many of our people have become internally displaced and those who decided to continue living in their villages, are living in desperate conditions with no elementary necessities of life,” said Haji Ghulam Mohammad Ishaqzai.
He underscored his belief that peace will bring economic development, social justice, access to education, health, work and other basic services. Most importantly, it will end the bloodshed and suffering.
Another participant, Gulalai (Ms) said, “We want inclusive dialogue and any peace deal without the participation and representation of women, will be incomplete.”
The participants expressed optimism about the current national and international efforts calling for intra-Afghan dialogue.
Helmand and other southern provinces are among the most restive in Afghanistan. The province is populated mainly by rural communities that have borne a heavy burden from the protracted conflict and insurgency.
UNAMA’s office in Kandahar supported the event as part of a series of local peace initiatives that started in 2018 and have included meetings with local communities, as well as facilitating that their voices are heard through broadcasting programmes about their meetings on local media.
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.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.