Elders’ role in bringing stability to Afghanistan’s east, focus of new radio discussion

13 Jul 2017

Elders’ role in bringing stability to Afghanistan’s east, focus of new radio discussion

MEHTARLAM - In Afghanistan’s eastern region elders are central to resolving local conflicts. Participating in a radio roundtable, Laghman Provincial Council members, tribal elders and civil society representatives, discussed and called upon community elders to take a lead in efforts to bring stability to the region.

The programme, supported by the Jalalabad Regional Office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), focused on the centrality of community elders to peace building efforts in the province and was broadcast by Nawakht Radio in Mehtarlam to an estimated audience of 400,000.

“Afghanistan is the country of Jirgas, no conflict can be solved without tribal elders and religious scholars’ involvement,” said a tribal elder Faizanullah Patan, one of the panelists.

In Afghanistan traditional leaders, or elders, are respected figures and communities follow their words. This is the case across the country, but more so, in rural and remote provinces such as Laghman.

“In Alingar district, I solved several family disputes, with the support of elders,” shared Bibi Khord Roya, a female member of the Laghman Provincial Council and a panelist in the discussion. “Their interventions resulted in finding lasting solutions, now, all the conflicting sides are living in their villages in a peaceful environment.”

Earlier this year community leaders from bordering districts of Laghman and Nuristan, supported by UNAMA, organized a three-day Peace Jirga to engage with local opposing groups to allow humanitarian activities and assistance to take place in the area along the main road between Laghman and Western Nuristan. Elders, including women, played a central role, underscoring UNAMA’s position that a sustainable peace-process must be inclusive.

UNAMA continues to work with provincial councils, community leaders, youth groups and local radio stations throughout the country to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogues and discuss pressing issues affecting their communities.

Laghman, largely a rural community, supplies Kabul with fruits and vegetables. It has sizable amounts of irrigated land thanks to Alingar and Alinshang rivers flowing through the province.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.