Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations during the Security Council Briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 11 March 2019

Mr President,

Thank you for convening this briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) this morning.

We wish to take this opportunity to convey our condolences to our Ethiopian friends and member states that were affected by the tragedy of flight 302 which also affected members of our UN family.

We thank Mr Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Mrs Storai Tapesh, Deputy Executive Director of the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) for the informative briefings. We also appreciate the participation of Mr Hamduullah Mohib, the National Security Advisor of Afghanistan and look forward to his statement.

South Africa would like to welcome the holding of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan under the Afghan auspices in 2018 and looks forward to the presidential elections that are expected to take place on 20 July 2019. We would like to reiterate our support for the progress on electoral reform in Afghanistan which we hope will ensure that the upcoming elections are credible, timely, inclusive, fair and free, safe and transparent for all the people of Afghanistan. We need to support the people of Afghanistan as they rebuild trust and work towards reconciliation.

Mr President,

South Africa would also like to commend the efforts of UNAMA, whose work has been invaluable in strengthening the capacity, capabilities, and professionalism of Afghanistan’s electoral assistance and monitoring bodies. In this regard, South Africa will support the renewal of the mandate of UNAMA.

We are confident that this will bring positive gains for the people of Afghanistan during the election and post-election period in July. We also welcome the positive role of civil society and women’s organizations in contributing to the peace process and preparations towards the elections. This inclusive approach towards the consolidation of peace in Afghanistan will play an important role in long-term sustainable peace and development of the country as well as the region.

Mr President,

The recent escalating levels of violence in Afghanistan, particularly the attacks which have been indiscriminate against civilians, remain of concern. Continued violence could undermine the progress which has been made in the security and political environments, especially in the lead up to the elections. This could also exacerbate the already serious humanitarian situation that would leave many with the choice to migrate or turn to violence acts in their communities.  

The human cost of conflict only further weakens the society in which it takes place and has devastating effects on the most vulnerable groups in particular children, women, and people living with disabilities. Their hopes for a secure future deteriorate with each day that passes and we do not act effectively in their interest.

South Africa calls on all parties to protect Afghan women, children and those that have been displaced, from attacks and particularly from sexual and gender-based violence. We also wishes to condemn the unlawful recruitment and use of children by armed forces and call for the protection, release and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces and armed groups. We also wish to express our deep concern about the growing links between drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan and terrorism.

We strongly condemn the violent and terrorist activities in the country including attacks with improvised explosive devices (IED), suicide attacks and assassinations. This could weaken the progress made by Afghan authorities and the parties and stakeholders involved in bringing about peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Mr President,

We urge all parties to engage in direct talks and continue efforts to preserve the gains made over the years including on issues such as human rights, in particular women and children’s rights. In this regard, South Africa believes that a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process that provides for the peaceful resolution of the conflict and a comprehensive political settlement is the only long-term solution for the situation in Afghanistan.

We welcome all international engagement and appreciate the efforts of all role players in encouraging Afghanistan to finding solutions to long-lasting, durable peace.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION’

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