The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to redouble efforts to protect civilians and reduce conflict ahead of the peace talks.
The appeal from UNAMA, also calls for a de-escalation of the conflict to save lives and facilitate discussions in Qatar.
It follows a recent spate of deliberate attacks against religious leaders, healthcare workers, members of the judiciary, civil society activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and journalists.
The intra-Afghan talks could begin sometime this month in Doha, capital of Qatar, according to UNAMA.
“It’s taken enormous work and some brave decisions for Afghans to reach the point of being on the eve of unprecedented intra-Afghan negotiations,” Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said on Thursday.
In the first six months of the year, more than 800 civilians were killed and injured in deliberate attacks which UNAMA attributed responsibility for approximately half of these civilian casualties to the Taliban.
These are “shocking and criminal” attacks, UNAMA said in a statement.
Ms. Lyons, meanwhile, warned against “spoilers who do not wish to see an end to war.”
“No matter what tactics they employ to derail the peace process, they cannot be allowed to succeed,” she insisted.
The UN reiterates that attacks deliberately targeting Afghanistan’s civilian population are serious violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes.
UNAMA also drew attention to the continued harm to civilians from the use of indirect fire during ground engagements, in civilian-populated areas, that has caused roughly 25% of civilian casualties in the second quarter of 2020.
The Mission’s continued call for an end to violence is also immediately linked to the need for all parties to provide the necessary focus and resources to combating the COVID-19 pandemic, “a serious threat to everyone in Afghanistan”. (Source: UN News)