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UN, Afghanistan is the worst place for women and children

UN: Afghanistan the Worst Place for Women and Children

KABUL – The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Deborah Lyons, said Thursday Afghanistan remains the worst country for women and children.
“Despite significant progress in the last two decades, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, and one of the worst to be a child,” she briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan.
She said that the level of violence on the battlefield remains deeply worrying.
“The last few weeks have seen near-record numbers of security incidents, including egregious attacks by spoilers targeting civilians involved in the peace process.”
Deborah calls on all warring parties to reduce the level of violence.
It comes as the main obstacle, the prisoner swap process between the Afghan government and the Taliban, ahead of the intra-Afghan talks has been removed.
National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal said Thursday the prisoner release process has almost ended and peace talks can now start.
He said: “It is imperative that intra-Afghan peace talks begin as soon as possible.
“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has received our commandos held hostage by the Taliban, after which the government released the remaining 400 convicts, except the few for which our partners have reservations. Diplomatic efforts are ongoing. We expect direct talks to start promptly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deborah Lyons urged the two sides to consider a humanitarian ceasefire as one of the first items on the agenda of Intra- Afghan negotiations.
“For Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people, the stakes could not be higher. I urge all member states to amplify this call as the negotiations begin. And the negotiations will begin,” she noted.
“After four decades of war, the people of Afghanistan have more reason than ever to hope that this devastating conflict may come to an end,” UN envoy said.
Deborah Lyons also emphasized the need for women’s participation in the coming Intra-Afghan negotiations that could pave the way to end the long-term war in the war-weary country.
“We all know that talking will not be enough. Women’s rights are already emerging as one of the most difficult issues confronting the conflict parties as they enter negotiations, and one where any compromises could pose, will pose, a difficult dilemma for member states,” she said.
“The issue will be more central, this issue of women’s rights will be more central in the Afghan peace process than we have ever seen in any other peace negotiation in recent memory.”
She noted that it is women’s representation at the peace table that offers the best opportunity to ensure that their own rights are upheld and that their vision for elements of a peaceful Afghanistan is reflected in all aspects of the talks.
“I commend the women members of the Islamic Republic negotiating team and other peace structures for their energetic outreach and substantive preparations for intra-Afghan talks.”
“As of this moment, we are not yet aware of any women’s representation on the Taliban side, but we remain hopeful that they, too, will find a way of meaningfully including women, the other 50 percent of the population, in their negotiation team,” Lyons added.
(Sahar News)

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