Afghanistan continues to need the sustained support of the international community as its stability cannot be taken for granted, said Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, in a briefing to the Security Council today.
Noting that the people of Afghanistan are facing what the UN envoy called “an opaque future,” and are keenly monitoring their environment for signs of international disengagement or of domestic stabilisation, Mr. Haysom said the current refugee exodus reflects the despondency of many Afghans.
“A clear signal of continued international support will mitigate the uncertainty fuelling this exodus,” said the envoy, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
In speaking of the country’s security situation, the Special Representative said the conflict continues to take a toll on Afghan civilians, noting that, in the first eight months of 2015, UNAMA documented the highest level of civilian casualties since it began records. Anti-Government Elements, he said, are continuing to cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries, and casualties caused by Afghan security forces are continuing to rise.
“UNAMA is encouraged by recent statements made by President Ashraf Ghani to take official steps to reduce civilian casualties,” he said. “We trust that the Government’s civilian casualty mitigation policy will incorporate all of the elements set out in UNAMA’s Mid-Year Report on the Protection of Civilians.”
The UN envoy went on to say that this year’s conflict has been one of the most intense faced by the Afghan National Security Forces. “As predicated in earlier briefings, we anticipate the intensification of the violence in the country to continue through 2015,” he said, underscoring the importance of renewing a viable peace process.
“I reiterate my call for direct engagement between the Taliban and the Government,” he stressed. “A war-weary Afghan population is clamouring for peace and they deserve it.”
In concluding, the UN envoy said UNAMA will continue to engage, in the background, with the Government, the Taliban, neighbouring countries and the international community to promote a process that will allow Afghans to find an arrangement by which they can live in peace.