As numbers of dead and displaced soar, UN calls for steps to protect Afghan civilians
The United Nations today called for increased steps to protect civilians in Afghanistan as conflict and insecurity continue to affect thousands of people, with the number of those killed doubling from 2005 to 2006 and resurgent fighting in the south driving 80,000 others from their homes during the same period.
“The safety of the Afghan people must be our first priority,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Tom Koenigs told the opening session of a three-day workshop in Kabul, the capital, focused on the “Protection of Civilians in Afghanistan.”
“It is civilians who continue to bear the brunt of insecurity and conflict in Afghanistan. We all have a responsibility to redouble our efforts to ensure the safety and welfare of Afghanistan’s people,” he said.
Lack of security has rendered much of the southern region inaccessible for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and largely prohibits the access needed for the investigation of deaths and injuries of those caught up in the conflict.
The workshop brings together over 80 representatives from all sectors, including the Government, the Afghan armed forces and police, the International Security Assistance Force, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UN agencies, key donors, the International Committee of the Red Cross and national and international non-governmental organizations.
Academic institutions and Afghan civil society, including community and religious leaders, are also taking part.
“We want the recommendations emerging from this workshop to lay the foundation for developing a strong and effective protection framework for civilians across Afghanistan,” Mr. Koenigs said.
“We want to maintain the momentum of this workshop, and gear ourselves to adapt in the best possible way to ensure conflict prevention and the safety of people.”