UN Chief Calls for Immediate Ceasefire

Kabul (BNA) Addressing the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has urged the redoubling of efforts towards an immediate, unconditional ceasefire, in order to save lives and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“I am also deeply concerned about continued high levels of violence, particularly he recent heinous attacks on civilians, including students. The Afghan people have suffered for far too long,” Guterres said while virtually addressing Geneva Conference 2020 on Afghanistan.

“Ceasefire will create a conducive environment for the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Doha – a major opportunity to realize the long-held aspirations of the Afghan people. An inclusive process, in which women, young people and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offered the best hope of sustainable peace,” he said.

“Afghan women have paid a high price in the conflict. Some have been subjected to extreme violence; others have lost loved ones, homes and communities; many continue to be denied opportunities of all kinds, including education and basic rights to livelihoods, land, legal personhood, and a life free of violence.”

UN chief commended the women who are serving their country today in senior roles in the Defense, Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries, as well as in the civil service and provincial governments. “These are gains that must be protected and built on.”

He also said: “Afghan women are playing a central role in creating peaceful, inclusive communities with more opportunities for all – women and men, girls and boys, people with disabilities, victims and survivors of the conflict. They are demonstrating on a daily basis that their efforts towards sustainable and inclusive development can change lives for the better.”

The UN Chief went on saying that despite decades of conflict, the people of Afghanistan have made significant progress over recent years. Access to water, sanitation, electricity and health services has increased and across the country, girls and boys are more likely to be in school, he added.

“The Afghan economy has diversified. Improved infrastructure and power supplies are connecting remote areas to national economic opportunities, and to neighboring countries. More women are in government, and in legislatures at the national and local levels. Afghans have made remarkable progress in achieving their human rights – particularly those of women, minorities, and children.”

Guterres commended the Government of Afghanistan for its ambitious agenda for development and reforms, including its outreach to regional partners and commitment to connectivity.”

“I urge Afghanistan’s neighbors and partners to play their part in building a peaceful and prosperous future for Afghanistan by seizing these opportunities for cooperation.”

He also said that progress toward peace will contribute to the development of the entire region, and is a vital step towards the safe, orderly and dignified return of millions of displaced Afghans.

The United Nations stands with the people of Afghanistan on the path toward peace, development and self-reliance, he reiterated.

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