UN / AFGHANISTAN

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25-Jun-2020 00:02:55
UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the Security Council she was “cautiously optimistic” that talks between the Government and the Taliban would start in July in Doha and encouraged the parties “to show the necessary flexibility and foresight, the commitment to peace and most importantly compassion for their people that will be needed to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / AFGHANISTAN
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SOURCE: UNIFEED
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DATELINE: 25 JUNE 2020, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, United Nations headquarters exterior

JUNE 2020, NEW YORK CITY

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“The recent 12 May attack against a maternity ward in western Kabul was particularly outrageous and established a new low. This was truly a moment when new life was taken from the womb. The perpetrators must be found and held accountable.”
3. Multiple screen, participants
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“It grieves me to say that the number of children out of school has not dropped. But instead it has risen in the past eight years – the number of children out of school. If there ever was a call for prayer, if there was ever a call to prayer for peace, surely it would echo the voices of these children.”
5. Multiple screen, participants
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“I am cautiously optimistic that the talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban negotiation teams will indeed start in the next few weeks in Doha, during the month of July. As the two sides embark on what will likely be a long and complex series of talks, I have encouraged them to show the necessary flexibility and foresight, the commitment to peace and most importantly compassion for their people that will be needed to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.”
7. Multiple screen, participants
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“As we know, the best chance for a durable settlement rests on a broad consensus, reflecting the aspiration and concerns of all citizens. We understand that both sides have now reached out to various constituencies to seek their views on peace. It is indeed crucial to develop inclusive structures for peace talks, that allow the meaningful participation of women, youth, minorities and victims of war. It is important that the rights of victims are addressed during the negotiations and approaches for reconciliation are considered.”
9. Multiple screen, participants
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations:
“Our position is very clear. We are determined to achieve a sustainable peace, but unless a ceasefire is in place, we cannot continue to hold the national consensus among the public. The Taliban must understand that this is not only about the Government but also by the people of Afghanistan as a whole.”
11. Multiple screen, participants

STORYLINE:

UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the Security Council she was “cautiously optimistic” that talks between the Government and the Taliban would start in July in Doha and encouraged the parties “to show the necessary flexibility and foresight, the commitment to peace and most importantly compassion for their people that will be needed to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

Addressing a virtual meeting of the Security Council today (25 Jun), Lyons said Afghanistan made immense gains in recent years, but this progress was hard-won and remains fragile. She noted that Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest conflicts in the world in terms of civilian casualties, adding that too many afghans still face daily struggles for survival. She stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic also threatens to unravel many of the hard-won socio-economic gains made in the country.

The Special Representative said the US-Taliban agreement and subsequent reduction of violence have given only brief respite from the carnage the country has witnessed. She said the recent deliberate attacks against healthcare facilities were particularly egregious at a time when all resources need to be focused on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“The recent 12 May attack against a maternity ward in western Kabul was particularly outrageous and established a new low. This was truly a moment when new life was taken from the womb. The perpetrators must be found and held accountable.”

Lyons said Afghanistan also remains the deadliest conflict in the world for children, as the conflict killed 874 children last year and injured many more.

SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“It grieves me to say that the number of children out of school has not dropped. But instead it has risen in the past eight years – the number of children out of school. If there ever was a call for prayer, if there was ever a call to prayer for peace, surely it would echo the voices of these children.”

The Special Representative welcomed the political agreement reached between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, which she said shows their determination and resolve to place the nation first. She expected to hear in the next few days the announcement of a representative cabinet and the formation of inclusive peace structures.

Lyons stressed that despite challenges, now was the time for concerted support for Afghanistan as the two parties to peace talks move towards a new and lasting political settlement that must build on the gains of the past and set the foundation for a more prosperous future.

SOUNDBITE (English) Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, United Nations:
“As we know, the best chance for a durable settlement rests on a broad consensus, reflecting the aspiration and concerns of all citizens. We understand that both sides have now reached out to various constituencies to seek their views on peace. It is indeed crucial to develop inclusive structures for peace talks, that allow the meaningful participation of women, youth, minorities and victims of war. It is important that the rights of victims are addressed during the negotiations and approaches for reconciliation are considered.”

The Special Representative underscored that a reduction in violence is essential for the peace talks and to pave the way for an eventual permanent ceasefire but noted that the recent spiralling levels of violence threaten this process.

Afghan ambassador Adela Raz said a council for national reconciliation would be formed in consultation with President Ghani and by Dr Abdullah. She said the participation of women in the peace process is paramount to ensure the representation of all Afghans and emphasized the need to safeguard the achievement made on women’s rights in past years.

Raz said the Government was working on the release of some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, with over 3,800 already released, and called on the Taliban to reciprocate.

SOUNDBITE (English) Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations:
“Our position is very clear. We are determined to achieve a sustainable peace, but unless a ceasefire is in place, we cannot continue to hold the national consensus among the public. The Taliban must understand that this is not only about the Government but also by the people of Afghanistan as a whole.”

The Afghan ambassador called on Taliban to heed to the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that despite persistent calls by the Government and international community for a ceasefire, the level of violence continues to be high.
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