KANDAHAR - The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Afghanistan, Mette Knudsen, visited Kandahar this week to assess the situation in the region, discuss peace efforts and humanitarian assistance work.
Knudsen, who also heads UNAMA’s political pillar, met with local authorities, tribal leaders, civil society representatives and women and youth groups.
During those encounters, the UN envoy assured partners that the United Nations will continue to work with the people of Afghanistan to achieve a sustainable peace.
“The United Nations has been in Afghanistan for the last 75 years and our work continues. Our commitment with Afghan people to reach to a sustainable peace, protect human rights and support development remains firm,” she said.
Civil society representatives in Kandahar thanked the assistance provided by the United Nations throughout these years and requested a robust role for UNAMA to work for sustainable peace.
“Good governance, rule of law, social justice, human rights and access to services, are key to achieving durable peace. An inclusive peace, where every Afghan sees him/herself part of it, is desirable”, stated Mr. Ahmad Shah Spar, a civil society activist in Kandahar.
In a separate meeting with a group of women rights activists and youth, the UN envoy listened to their views on peace efforts.
“Afghans have suffered enough and women have borne the brunt of the last 40 years of conflict, having endured enormous sacrifices”, said Zarghoona Baloch.
Women activists stressed that they want a durable and respectful peace and that the gains of the last 18 years or so, in terms of women’s rights, must not be compromised.
“We want a peaceful country where women’s rights are fully guaranteed and protected. Where girls can go to school and work. Whoever, is coming to power, must realize that women are also part of this society and that they rights must be protected”, stated Ms. Jamila Yousufi, a women rights activist in Kandahar.
Other participants voiced concerns about insufficient women’s participation at the peace negotiations, especially because “there is no representation of women from the Southern region”, they stressed.
In her meetings with local authorities and leaders, DSRSG Knudsen also discussed the human rights situation, and future cooperation between UN and local authorities.
Following its mandate laid out in the UN Security Council resolution, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. It backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion. UNAMA is a civilian political mission and it delivers its mandate with impartiality, through several offices in Kabul and 11 regions across the country.