We must seize this opportunity for peace, say Helmand community leaders

21 May 2019

We must seize this opportunity for peace, say Helmand community leaders

LASHKAR GAH - Panellists in a UN-backed television programme in the southern province of Helmand called on all Afghans to put aside their differences and seize any opportunities for peace.

Speaking during the programme broadcast by Sabawoon TV to an audience estimated at 400,000 people in and around Helmand’s capital of Lashkar Gah, panellists observed that the current political environment offers an unprecedented opportunity for Afghanistan to have a better future.

“The current situation is very conducive to peace,” said Hafiz Mohammad Dawood Modaqeq, head of the Pilgrimage and Religious Affairs Department in Helmand. “All of us, on all sides of the conflict, should consider our religious responsibilities toward our nation and should end this violence.”

Other members of the panel offered similar views, urging Afghans to play their part to resolve local conflict, seek reconciliation, support national peace efforts and rebuild the country.

The head of Helmand’s Department of Women’s Affairs, Sharifa, spoke of the importance of women’s inclusion in any peace talks and the need to safeguard human rights in any settlements.

“By any means necessary, women’s rights must be protected and all parties to the conflict must respect the gains made in these rights,” said Sharifa, echoing the current concerns among many citizens regarding possible compromises on the gains made over the past 18 years in the name of peace.

Families living in Helmand, which borders Pakistan to the south, have suffered heavy losses from the long conflict. Thousands of people have been killed, maimed and injured in Helmand, while tens of thousands have been displaced or remain unable to access health, education and other government services.

At the conclusion of the lively discussion, which involved members of the studio audience, panellists jointly called for the active involvement of all Afghans in support of peace, and jointly appealed to the government and to anti-government elements to use everything at their disposal to bring the devastating conflict to an end.

Supported by UNAMA’s Kandahar regional office, the programme is part of a radio and television outreach campaign in Afghanistan’s southern region to underscore the important role communities can play to support local and national peace efforts.

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

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, 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.