Statement by the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Thursday, 3 September 2020

Thank you, Mr President.

I wish to thank Ms Deborah Lyons (Special Representative and Head of UNAMA) and Mr Saad Mohseni (Chief Executive of the MOBY Group) for their insightful briefings.

Welcome also to you Ambassador Raz and thank you for your statement.

Let me take the opportunity to extend South Africa’s sincere condolences to the people and Government of Afghanistan following the loss of life due to the devastation brought about by intense flash flooding in recent weeks.

Natural disasters, such as those that have ravaged Afghanistan over the past few weeks continue to impact the humanitarian situation in the country, which is already of concern due to the continuing violence, high levels of food insecurity and the additional strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this regard, South Africa appreciates the measures taken by the Afghan Government and UNAMA to limit and respond to the spread of the virus and calls on the international community to continue to support the Afghan people in ensuring that the necessary equipment and medical supplies are available to all those in need.

Mr President,

The only way to achieve long-term peace in Afghanistan, is for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations. In this regard, South Africa welcomes President Ghani’s recent announcement of the members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, led by Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

Additionally, we urge the Afghan leadership to fully adhere to the provisions of the political agreement signed in May 2020, and enhance their cooperation to fully implement this agreement, including the appointment of Cabinet Ministers and the filling of other Government positions. In this regard, we express the hope that the parties can build on this positive development by giving renewed impetus to start intra-Afghan negotiations.

In this regard, it is essential to take on board the voices of all sectors of society, and South Africa supports the necessary inclusion of women in the Afghan peace negotiations. The unique views, perspectives and approaches of women is essential in establishing a safe, secure and peaceful Afghanistan.

We know that all women involved, at all levels of the peace process, will continue to play an active role in this regard. This includes ensuring that the gains made in the past two decades in the restoration of the fundamental human rights of women and girls, are maintained and that greater opportunities and achievements for all Afghan women and girls will be part of their future.

Mr President,

In order for these peace talks to be effective, there must be a cessation of hostilities to create a conducive environment for the intra-Afghan peace talks. We therefore call on all parties to cease their violent actions. Particularly as this violence affects the most vulnerable members of society; women and children.

South Africa remains deeply concerned at the scale, severity and recurrence of violations and abuses endured by children in Afghanistan. All those responsible for conducting acts of grave violations against children must be brought to justice and held accountable, including through timely, systematic, impartial and independent investigations, and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction.
 
In conclusion, Mr President, allow me to extend my appreciation to the leadership, troops and personnel of UNAMA all of whom operate in a challenging environment.

UNAMA’s continued engagement with national, regional and international stakeholders, in seeking an end to the violence; its work in support of a ceasefire; the promotion of intra-Afghan negotiations; as well as encouraging confidence-building measures, are a necessary and significant component in bringing long-term peace, security and prosperity to Afghanistan and the wider region.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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