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Lyons: 'Killing, Displacement, Suffering of Afghans Must End'

  • Children play on a destroyed tank, Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 23, 2021.

    Children play on a destroyed tank, Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 23, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @UN_News_Centre

Published 24 March 2021

The UNAMA chief noted that peace talks have not had a positive influence on civic life as targeted and brutal attacks persist.

During a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held on Tuesday, Deborah Lyons, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), emphasized that killing, displacement, and suffering of the Afghan people "must end now."


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Over six months after formal Afghan peace negotiations between the government and Taliban representatives, Lyons said that now was "a timely moment to take stock" and assess what must be done to support the path towards peace.

She told UNSC that she was encouraged to hear from both sides gathered in Doha, Qatar, that "real substantive progress" was being made on key agenda items but upheld that "more must be done to demonstrate to Afghans that the negotiations are progressing in the real interests of the Afghan people."

The UNAMA chief said that everyone has the responsibility to ensure that actions are "integrated, mutually reinforcing, and, most importantly, are in the best interests of the Afghan people."

Lyons noted that the recent phase of peace talks has not had a positive influence on civic life as targeted and brutal attacks persist.

"I am very sorry to report that in the first two months of 2021, we have witnessed the continued trend of rising civilian casualties, documented since the start of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations," she recalled.

Pointing to more than 80 UNAMA-documented Afghans killed, she said that "this does not convey the full and crippling impact of the violence."

"For every Afghan killed, there are many more who leave their professions, or sadly, feel that they must leave their country."

Reminding that this is not the Afghanistan of 20 years ago, she also recalled that half of the population was born after the Bonn Agreement was signed in 2001 - following the invasion of the country in response to 9/11 - and has grown up with aspirations for a proper education, in a country where women have economic and political power and civil society has the space to flourish.

"They deserve to have their voices heard during the negotiations - and to have the inherent right to an active and substantial role in Afghan society after a peace agreement is concluded," Lyons stated.

The UNAMA chief also spoke of a "deepening humanitarian crisis" with food security at unprecedented levels as drought spreads and pledges of support dwindle. She pointed to the unjustified targeting of humanitarian workers that are triggering grave consequences for the lives and livelihoods of Afghans.

"We need the violence to decrease, we need the access to increase, we need additional funding, and we need the all-important NGO community to be allowed to do their important work," Lyons spelled out.


Deborah Lyons
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