Afghanistan

Protection of civilians is the responsibility of all parties to the conflict

JALALABAD - Civilians must be protected from attacks and the impact of conflict by warring parties stressed participants at a UN-backed television roundtable in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

In a televised discussion, panelists who included representatives from the community, military, civil society and academia expressed concern at the increasing number of civilians killed and injured in the armed conflict in the region, particularly women and children. They underscored the obligation and responsibility of parties to a conflict to protect civilians in accordance with International Humanitarian law.

“Both parties to the conflict must respect the law and take necessary measures to protect civilians” said Hakam Moshfiq a university lecturer and law expert, stressing that the war has had a severe tore on the lives and daily routines of ordinary people.

In 2017, civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan remained in near record high levels in first nine months, with Nangarhar suffering one of the highest losses, according to UNAMAs quarterly report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The socio-economic impact of the conflict on communities and families has been incalculable, most cannot access health services, education or engage in employment, subsequently marginalizing and pushing them deeper into poverty.

The International Humanitarian Law defines civilians as persons who are not members of military or paramilitary forces or fighters of organized armed groups of a party to a conflict, while protected areas include schools, places of worship and hospitals.

The television programme, broadcast to an estimated audience of 500,000 viewers was supported by the Jalalabad regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in partnership with Sharq TV and Sharq radio. Similar programs in Nuristan and Nangahar provinces are also under way.

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.