Afghanistan: Press briefing, 11 Sep 2007

Speakers: Mr. Tom Koenigs Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the heads of all UN Agencies in Afghanistan: WHO, ADB, HABITAT, UNODC, UNHCR, IOM, UNMACA, UNOPS, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, UNEP, UNESCO, ILO UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA

Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Tom Koenigs: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this press conference in a rather new environment. Seven weeks ago, UNAMA and UNICEF launched an appeal for a day of Peace in Afghanistan with Jeremy Gilley and actor Jude Law, representing an organization called Peace-One-Day.

Those of you in the media will know that every week since then, more and more people, more and more organizations have been joining in. At first it was Afghan actors and celebrities. Then came media organizations and you, individual journalists. Civil society groups took up the call, and now are doing their own campaigning. We've even had orphanages asking what they could do. Businesses told us they wanted to do something. Government ministers liked the idea. Kabul municipality, regional and provincial departments, local Olympic Committees, donors - all have come out in support. The response has been vast, and it continues to grow.

In Afghanistan, we all know about conflict and insecurity. But what we have seen in these past weeks is an Afghanistan that wants peace. Indeed, the Afghanistan we have seen demands peace.

So, what do we intend doing about this? You may notice I am joined here by representatives of every UN Agency in Afghanistan.

Today, together with my colleagues, and on the eve of the holy month of Ramazan I, am asking your support for a total cessation of violence across Afghanistan on See Sombola, Wa-gai Deshum [21 September]. Again, I am asking your support for a total cessation of violence across Afghanistan on 21 September. I am also appealing for tranquility in the week ahead of 21 September, to allow for vital humanitarian access to deliver polio vaccines, and food to those in need.

I have asked our major partners to support this goal. But this is foremost an appeal to you, to all groups, all institutions, all the people of this country. Show that you want peace in Afghanistan. Tell people you want peace in Afghanistan. Do something, big or small. Help us make peace in Afghanistan real.

WHO: The World Health Organization supports peace, and the days of tranquility this week, leading up to Peace Day. If we have peace, we can immunize 84,996 children who totally missed immunization and vaccination this year. Because these children live in insecure areas, they have missed vaccination against polio, measles, whooping cough, hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus.

ADB: The Asian Development Bank supports a day of peace in Afghanistan on 21 September. With peace in Afghanistan, the ADB will be able to finance additional roads, electricity and agricultural projects.

HABITAT: With peace in Afghanistan, we will continue what we have done for 16 years for the people at community level, to raise their capacity and give them tools to reconstruct their country. This includes men, women, rural and urban people.

UNODC: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is supporting Peace Day in Afghanistan. UNODC says yes to justice and security and no to drugs and corruption.

UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency supports Peace Day in Afghanistan. If there is peace in Afghanistan, more refugees can return home to build a new life, to build a new home, to reconnect with their relatives and families and to travel freely in the country.

IOM: It is important to talk about peace, it is important to think about peace - but it is more important to work towards peace. The International Organization for Migration supports all migrants wishing to return to Afghanistan to live in peace and enjoy development.

UNMACA: The United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan is removing the legacy of war so that Afghans can sow the seeds of peace.

UNOPS: The United Nations Office for Project Services is rebuilding infrastructure in Afghanistan which include roads, schools and clinics. We strongly support peace, because with peace we can come to your villages and districts much faster to help rebuild.

FAO: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization fully supports peace in Afghanistan. Based on successful experiences of various projects we are convinced that if peace comes to Afghanistan, food security can be achieved in the next 10 years or faster, given the investments that are planned today.

WFP: WFP and its 800 staff around the country fully support Peace Day. With peace in Afghanistan, we can help ensure that no Afghan school child fails to concentrate on their studies because of an empty stomach.

UNICEF: UNICEF supports Peace Day in Afghanistan. If we have peace in this country, UNICEF can deliver life-saving health and education services to every single child and their family in Afghanistan, especially in remote areas.

UNEP: More than 80 percent of Afghans rely on natural resources for their livelihood. These natural resources include land, water, woodland and forest. Conflict and war degrade and destroy natural resources and deprive Afghans of their livelihoods. Peace enhances the chances of conserving and protecting natural resources. The United Nations Environmental Protection Agency supports the day of peace on 21 September in Afghanistan. Securing peace in Afghanistan means securing livelihoods for the Afghan people.

UNESCO: A day of peace for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization means that in a tranquil situation, UNESCO can bring education to millions of girls and boys, as well as to illiterate Afghan youths and adults. It can safeguard the rich cultural heritage of the country and advance freedom of expression in the media and among the people. All of these are important for a sense of peace and humanity among the people.

ILO: The International Labor Organization supports Peace Day in Afghanistan. If peace prevails in this country, the ILO would have more possibilities to assist the Government employers and workers to promote and create peace and productive employment for men and women in the country.

UNDP: The United Nations Development Programme is strongly committed to long-lasting peace and Peace Day in Afghanistan. If there is peace in Afghanistan, UNDP will continue to intensify its efforts to work all across the country with marginalized groups, men, women and youth to ensure that development benefits are accessible to all.

UNIFEM: United Nations Development Fund for Women supports Peace Day. With peace at family and community level as well as national level, women and men will equally be able to contribute to and benefit from the development of the country.

UNFPA: The United Nations Population Fund strongly supports Peace Day, and calls for peace and tranquility all across the country. In a country which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, if there is peace in this country, far fewer women would be dying giving child birth and there would be far healthier families and more youth to realize their potential. If there is peace, Afghanistan will have its first population census, which will be the basis for more objective development planning and monitoring.

UNAMA Spokesman: Ladies and Gentlemen; you've heard the messages. It is very simple. It is from all of us, it is from all of the 6000 United Nations staff and their families in Afghanistan. It is more than an appeal for peace - and as one of my colleagues puts it, "stop the killing; start the chilling".