Afghanistan

Peace - the overriding priority, say community leaders in the south

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KANDAHAR – Peace remains the foremost priority for Afghanistan stressed participants during a series of UN-backed discussions and events held in the country’s south.

Throughout 2020, community leaders from across the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul participated in several events and initiatives promoting dialogue on local conflict resolution and the national peace process.

Supported by UNAMA's Kandahar office, radio, television and social media programmes provided an opportunity for local leaders, civil society, Ulema, youth and women to discuss pressing issues and propose practical solutions.

In a recent event, mostly tribal leaders and youth from Kandahar's Panjwai district shared their perspectives on ongoing Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Qatar. While appreciating the many challenges, participants said they have to maintain hope that the two sides will reach a settlement.

"For decades, we have been tormented by both sides," said Haji Neik Mohammad, one of the participants. "We want to live in peace and dignity."

Participants described the kind of peace and country they want as one underpinned by social justice, the rule of law and equality for Afghans, echoing views expressed across the country.

"We want permanent peace, we want a ceasefire, not short-term solutions to the Afghan crisis," stated Haji Mohammad, another participant.

Earlier last year, during a radio discussion in Kandahar, youth activists called for inclusivity in the peace discussions, arguing that the absence of youth voices and other minorities, excludes the ideas, perspectives and suggestions of millions of Afghans.

"The negotiating teams' current structure should include youth, because, without them, peace will not be possible," said Fahima Rahmati, a radio panellist.

Kandahar and other southern provinces are among the most troubled and restive in Afghanistan. Bordering Iran and Pakistan, the province is populated mainly by rural communities that have been heavily impacted by a protracted conflict.

UNAMA continues to work with advocacy groups and institutions – including religious leaders, youth groups, women's groups and local media outlets – to create platforms, using radio, social media and television, to enable Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.

UNAMA field office in Kandahar organized multiple events across the southern region to highlight local communities' role in achieving peace.