The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, called yesterday for continued international assistance to Afghanistan and support to its institutions.
Speaking in Brussels at a North Atlantic Council meeting of Foreign Ministers, Mr. Haysom commended those countries that have contributed to security, but said that a clear message needs to be heard from the international community.
“Sustained and predictable international security assistance in accordance with mutually agreed security agreements is vital,” said Mr. Haysom. “International attention will not waver and Afghanistan will not, once again, be abandoned to further cycles of civil strife.”
While paying condolences to the families of those who have lost family members, Mr. Haysom, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, highlighted his deep concern at the continued high number of civilian casualties.
“It is civilians who increasingly bear the brunt of this grinding conflict,” he said, urging the international community to boost, among other things, Afghan institutions’ ability to mitigate the threat posed to civilians by the conflict.
He acknowledged significant remedial measures taken by international military forces to reduce civilian casualties and noted that armed opposition groups are still responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties.
The shared goal of a sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, Mr. Haysom continued, can only be accomplished through enduring peace. He welcomed the approach of Afghanistan’s recently elected authorities in seeking solutions to many of the key challenges facing the country.
Afghanistan elections this year represented the country’s first-ever transfer of power from one elected president to another. The Afghan political transition coincides with a security transition, with the country’s security forces taking up security responsibilities from their international allies, who are ending their combat mission at the close of the year.
“While the electoral process was protracted and challenging, the result is a leadership that is legitimate, freshly mandated and broadly supported,” he added. “I commend President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah for working together through the difficulties of making this complex arrangement work.”
“We all recognize that ultimately the solutions to conflict in Afghanistan are political and not military; I welcome the priority given by the new administration to reconciliation and outreach,” Mr. Haysom concluded. “The United Nations, as requested, stands ready to support this in any way it can.”