UN-backed local peace initiative ends longstanding dispute in Nangarhar

Report
from UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Published on 23 Apr 2019 View Original

JALALABAD - A longstanding dispute over water resources between two tribes in the eastern province of Nangarhar has been resolved through mediation and community engagement.

A peace Jirga involving the Markikhil and Kadarkhil tribes in Shirzad district, concluded with a resolution regulating water distribution being unanimously adopted. The Jirga was facilitated by UNAMA as part of its Local Peace Initiative program, in close coordination with the Nangarhar Conflict Resolution Commission (CRC).

Over the course of the Jirga, participants highlighted the negative impact of the 50-year-old feud over water rights. This included children being prevented from going to school or relatives visiting their families, as well as residents leaving their jobs, with about 400 families relocating.

During the three-day Jirga attended by 60 participants -including representatives from the conflicting tribes, local residents and mediators- community members spoke about the past and what they hoped would change.

Rahmatullah, a community elder from the Markikhil tribe said, “The conflict was dangerous, especially, during times of drought. We tried to solve it and had organized several jirgas but the resolutions did not last because we were not able to agree on the regulations for water distribution. This time the agreement is comprehensive.”

Another representative from the same tribe, Karimullah Karimi, added that the Jirga will allow girls and boys to go back to school and displaced families to return to their villages.

Zabith Khan, a community elder from the Kadarkhil tribe said that, “During the years of conflict, we were not able to cultivate our land. Although, there were some people who had spoken to our elders against ending the feud, we were convinced by the mediators to think about the future, about the protection of our lives, and about the future of our children.”

Women played an important role in the communities finding common ground. Zarghuna Naeemi, a member of the Provincial Peace Committee of Nangarhar explained, “While looking into solving the Markikhil and Kadarkhil conflict, first of all, we contacted the women from both sides, and encouraged them to speak with their male family members, to take part in the Jirga. They agreed and eventually the Jirga could be called with women participating as well and providing their input to the final agreement.”

The head of CRC, Muhibullah Rohani, recalled that the process of preparations, talks, and mediation took six months before the three-day Jirga was held, with involvement from UNAMA alongside other mediators – women, Ulema, and government officials.

UNAMA representatives reassured participants that the Mission is keen to see the success of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned local peace initiatives and reiterated the important role of women’s participation in peace efforts as stated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

The representatives of both parties committed that upon their return to the communities they would organize gatherings with tribes’ members to convey and implement the peace Jirga agreement.

The Jirga was covered by local media - Safa Radio, Sharq Radio, and Sharq TV - to disseminate the key messages to audiences of around 800,000 in Jalalabad and majority of the districts in Nangarhar province.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.