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UN: ‘Survival will be an achievement’ for new Afghan gov’t

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2016)
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Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Nicholas Haysom. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The United Nations Security Council held a session on the situation in Afghanistan on late Tuesday and extended UN mission in the country for another year.

Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, briefed the 15-member Council on the situation in Afghanistan.

Top UN official highlighted five challenges ahead of the Afghan national unity government for survival in 2016, including a contracting economy, an intensifying insurgency, an increasingly divided political environment, significant medium-term financial demand, and the need to achieve progress towards a sustainable peace.

 “For 2016, survival will be an achievement” for the Government, Haysom said. “Some may criticize this benchmark as being low, but survival does not mean inaction, or merely ‘treading water,’ but it means active engagement in confronting the five challenges,” he added.

Low economic growth

On the economic front, there had been an assumption in 2012 that the economy will continue eight per cent annual growth and the exploitation of Afghanistan’s abundant mineral resources would drive economic development.

“It is now clear however that neither would occur,” Mr. Haysom said. The World Bank now expects low economic growth, off a low base, which in turn has resulted in high unemployment, with hundreds of thousands of young people entering the work force each year finding no jobs.

Security threats

Turning to the security situation, the Taliban, emboldened by its military successes in Kunduz and elsewhere, will continue to test the Afghan security forces across the country, he noted. Yet in this first year of independent command, the Afghan security forces have largely held their own in the face of continuing high rates of attrition, he added.

“The stakes are high, not least because the loss of a provincial capital, even if temporarily, would have significant repercussions for the National Unity Government’s political standing,” he said.

On a positive note, since his previous briefing, the presence of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) has been confined to a smaller area to the east of the country, following operations by Afghan security forces with support from the international military.

Divided political situation

On the political transition, the Government continues to be subject to criticism on account of the economic and security deterioration even though this is not of its own making. It is being challenged by fractious political elite, the erosion of a necessary sense of national unity, and consequentially that most precious political commodity, confidence in the future, he said.

In the face of calls for reviewing the current political framework, the United Nations and the international community have made it clear to all stakeholders that it stands firmly behind the new Government. Despite delays in effective decision-making, the Government has now appointed an Attorney General and a Minister of Interior. A number of key posts, however, remain to be filled.

With an election date of 15 October announced, electoral reform is important for the National Unity Government to indicate progress in democratisation. The Government has finally issued a decree establishing a new Selection Committee to nominate Independent Election Commissioners this week. Yet the urgency to complete preparations remains.

Medium-term funding needs

In the coming months, the international community will make critical decisions at Warsaw and Brussels on the level and type of assistance it will continue to provide to Afghanistan, Mr. Haysom said.

As the country continues to rely on external funding sources for 69 per cent of Government expenditures, failure by the international community to pledge a medium-term commitment to Afghanistan will have a devastating impact, both materially and on the levels of confidence of ordinary Afghans. Donor expectations of Afghanistan’s reform agenda must be realistic, taking into account the formidable challenges facing the country.

Progress towards peace

The final hurdle is progress towards a sustainable peace. “Afghan’s want peace, they deserve peace, but most importantly they need peace,” he said. Without a peace process, the sustainability and viability of all of efforts, in Brussels, Warsaw, New York, and elsewhere to bring stability and prosperity to Afghanistan will be called into question.

The establishment of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group is a welcome development that has reinvigorated efforts to put a peace process on track, he said, acknowledging the efforts of Pakistan to assist in midwifing such talks. A successful peace process will require the support of neighbouring countries and the wider region.

He, however, called for direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government, noting that he again met with the Taliban Political Commission last week and stressed the need for an intra-Afghan dialogue involving Taliban. They however reiterated that they were not yet ready to engage directly with the Government, he said.

He welcomed today’s adoption by the Council of a resolution which renewed UNAMA’s mandate until 17 March 2017 and reaffirmed its important supporting role, at the request of the Afghan Government.

Based on UN News reports

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Intl donors seek strong, positive signal in Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

The Ambassadorial Anti-Corruption Group has expressed its deep concern over the slowdown in Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts, as documented by the recently published UNAMA annual anti-corruption report.

The group said in a statement that addressing widespread corruption is crucial for sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

“The upcoming peace talks require all parties to demonstrate their commitment to integrity, accountability, and the rule of law by concrete actions rather than polarization through mutual accusations of corrupt practices,” the statement said.

It added that the lack of effective investigations and prosecutions, in particular of high-level suspects, is also worrisome and we urge thorough investigation of the multiple allegations of misuse of public funds.

The group urged the Afghan government to empower the Supreme Audit Office and swiftly establish the Anti-Corruption Commission.

“While relying on an interim document to fill immediate gaps, within one year, the Government should adopt a genuine anti-corruption strategy building on a thorough assessment of the previous strategy through an inclusive consultation process,” the statement noted.

It also urged substantial progress on prosecution and enforcement of court orders and warrants, particularly in high-level cases and on the strengthening of the capacity for effective, impartial, and transparent implementation of policies and strategies.

“Findings of investigations by review bodies must be public. Institutions must be competent, independent, and transparent and appointments to the new Government and related institutions, as well as their future policies, must be guided by principles of good governance, rule of law and accountability,” read the statement.

The international donors further said that it is essential to assure donors that funds are being used efficiently and for the greater good. 

“To see reforms fade or fail now would also mean a loss of these investments. Therefore, the international partners will carefully follow the progress made,” the group said. 

“At this point, a strong and positive signal is needed,” it stressed.

The Ambassadorial Anti-Corruption Group is comprised of the Heads of Mission for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Denmark, Germany, Japan, United States of America, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, World Bank, NATO Senior Civilian Representative, Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, United Kingdom (UK), and European Union (EU).

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12 Taliban insurgents killed in Paktia clashes

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

At least 10 Taliban militants including a commander of the group were killed in clashes with the Afghan forces in Paktia province, the army confirmed.

Aimal Momand, a spokesman for the Afghan military told Ariana News that the clashes broke out after a large number of the insurgents attacked outposts of the Afghan forces in Zazi Aryoub district of the province.

The incident has taken place in Shah Mohammad village in the district at around 5 a.m. Thursday.

According to Momand, the group’s commander known as Abasin was also among the deaths and seven more were wounded in the incident.

He added no casualty was inflicted on the Afghan forces.

In a separate incident, the militants attacked the Afghan army while they patrolling in Samkani district of the province, Momand said in the counterattack on Wednesday night two Taliban fighters including one Pakistani national were killed and two others wounded.

Meanwhile, the Taliban, however, claimed that its fighters have imposed casualties on the Afghan forces in Zazi Aryoub clashes, but the group’s spokesman did not provide further details.

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Senseless violence in Afghanistan must end

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Canada and Australia join others in the international community in condemning the escalation of violence across Afghanistan. 

 We deplore the suffering and deaths of innocent civilians.

We condemn the deliberate and callous targeting of advocates for peace, and of the security forces trying to protect the population. 

We are deeply concerned that unacceptable levels of Taliban violence against Afghan forces threaten the long-delayed hopes of the Afghan people for peace. 

The recent attacks on religious leaders, healthcare workers, human rights advocates, and judicial figures are abhorrent. Those who carried out these crimes clearly intended to stop free debate. But the calls by civil society for an end to violence, and a bright and inclusive future for Afghanistan, cannot be silenced. 

We are confident Afghans will not be deterred from raising their voices to help achieve their common goal of an Afghanistan at peace, and in which the people’s wellbeing and diverse contributions are valued. We urge the full investigation of these crimes so those responsible can be brought to justice.

We continue to support inclusive, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-led negotiations as the only effective pathway to peace. It is disheartening that the restraint being shown by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces is not mirrored by the Taliban. This is not the behavior expected of those who claim to represent the very same people who are the victims of their violence.

Together, we call on all parties to the conflict to immediately comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2532. Now is the time for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which will allow the access so greatly needed to vulnerable Afghan communities battling the heavy impact of the COVID-19 crisis. An immediate reduction in violence and the humanitarian ceasefire will also build confidence and enable progress to be achieved in the intra-Afghan negotiations. 

The Taliban should demonstrate to fellow Afghans and the rest of the world it’s intent to undertake good faith negotiations for a peaceful future for Afghanistan. We encourage all parties to create the right conditions for the intra-Afghan talks by making clear their commitment to peace.

They must end this senseless violence now.

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