UN High Level Delegation Visit of Afghanistan: AHRDO brings Afghan war victims center stage

UN will stand with Afghan war victims said UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammad, yesterday in Kabul.

Heading a high level UN delegation, the Deputy Secretary-General met with 20 Afghan war victims and heard their concerns. Ms. Mohammad said that she was “moved” by the stories of the victims and promised to brief the UN Security Council on their plight as she heard it from the victims.

Reflecting the long suffering of millions of war victims, four of their representatives spoke on behalf of the victims community on four key issues including transitional justice, victims’ meaningful inclusion and participation in national processes, namely peace process, safe-guarding post-2001 democratic and human rights gains, and ensuring women’s meaningful participation in today’s Afghanistan as well as their roles in shaping the future of the country.

Former head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Dr. Sima Samar and the current head of the Commission, Shahrzad Akbar, also present at the event, reiterated the war victim’s demands and concerns. They both emphasized the need for a victims-centered peace approach in Afghanistan and that citizen’s fundamental rights- as enshrined in the second chapter of the Afghanistan’s Constitution- is guaranteed at any final resolution of the Afghan conflict.

Ms. Mohammad was accompanied by Ms. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UN Population Fund and Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women). They praised Afghan victims’ fight “against erosion of memory and forgetfulness.” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said that UN “does not accompany a peace process that does not help healing.” “We hear you clearly. We work with you and support your long journey for justice and accountability in Afghanistan,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The event was facilitated by AHRDO and was hosted by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The event exhibited the plight of decades-long Afghan war victims suffering and highlighted the gravity of continued human rights violations in today’s Afghanistan, through the collected memories of the war victims, in the form of Memory Boxes. Additionally, the event-through the joint roundtable- aimed to ensure that war victims are heard by the UN delegation as well as by the Afghan government. Their call for justice and accountability in Afghanistan should take center stage now as negotiations over the country’s future is gaining even more momentum.