Youth want their voices heard about peace
PULI KHUMRI – Youth representatives and local leaders from Baghlan province gathered in Puli Khumri earlier this year to discuss how the voices of Afghan’s youth on peace can best be heard both in their neighborhood and on a national level.
The ‘peace debate’ was organized by UNAMA in partnership with the Provincial Civil Society Network and was part of series of events providing a forum for communities to discuss peace efforts. A programme on the event was broadcast by media outlets -Tanwir TV, Arezo, Sana, Payman and Adeeb radio stations.
There was consensus that youth have the power to play a significant role in the peace process, in preventing and addressing local conflicts, by speaking out about the importance of resolving disputes through dialogue, and fostering a culture of peace and reconciliation within their communities.
“Youth are the majority of Afghan society, so it’s critical that they have a say in the peace process,” said Mohammad Rasool Huba, Executive Officer of Civil Society Network (CSN) at the opening of the debate.
The young activists identified illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, injustice and corruption as challenges to their participation and major drivers of conflict.
Provincial Governor Mohammad Akbar Barekzia committed to addressing the youth’s concerns. He also stressed that Intra-Afghan Negotiations are the only way for an inclusive political settlement and called on the Taliban leadership “to cease violence and consider a truce which is an aspiration of all Afghans.”
Assadullah Shahbaz, a Baghlan MP and secretary of Parliament’s Lower House, participated in an earlier debate. He emphasized the need for youth to be included in all decision-making processes, including the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
While young Afghans in Baghlan face significant challenges, there is a growing recognition that peace efforts in Afghanistan must be inclusive. That notion is reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2282 (2016), which recognizes the importance of youth in deterring and resolving conflict.
Afghanistan has one of the youngest populations in the world. Three-quarters of the country’s population is estimated to be below 30. Young Afghans are also among the most affected by the protracted conflict, grappling with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.
The ’peace debates’ are one of the many local peace initiatives that UNAMA has been supporting since 2016, offering mediation support to foster Afghan-led facilitation, mediation and reconciliation efforts on a provincial and district level
In accordance with its mandate, UNAMA works for 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 built on respect for human rights.