1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 68/11 and Security Council resolution 2344 (2017), in which I was requested to report every three months on developments in Afghanistan.
2. The report provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan, including political, humanitarian, development and human rights efforts, since the issuance of my report of 3 March 2017 (A/71/826-S/2017/189). It also provides a summary of key political and security developments and regional and international events relating to Afghanistan.
II. Relevant developments
3. The National Unity Government made some progress on priority reforms, as well as on high-level appointments. Afghan authorities advanced electoral preparations with the approval of a polling centre assessments package. The reporting period was otherwise dominated by the return to Afghanistan of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hizb-i Islami (Gulbuddin) faction. Hekmatyar’s return took place at a time of flux in Afghan politics, which is partly driven by increased jockeying among political figures ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. The First Vice-President, Abdul Rashid Dostum, left the country in mid-May reportedly for medical treatment in Turkey, his Junbish-e Milli party became increasingly vocal in its opposition to the Government, and personalities within the Jamiat-e-Islami party started positioning themselves. Meanwhile, there was no discernible progress on peace talks between the Government and the Taliban. An increase in multilateral engagement at the regional level was, however, observed. Afghanistan and Pakistan made efforts to improve relations despite occasional border clashes. The security situation remained very volatile, with an increase in security incidents in the first five months of the year over the same period in 2016. On 31 May, Kabul witnessed a suicide attack, which killed at least 65 people and injured more than 300, further straining the already fragile political situation and leading to several days of public demonstrations, some of which became violent. High levels of violence against civilians and significant internal displacement continued to be recorded. Economic growth, while slightly improved, remained low throughout the reporting period.