KABUL - The violence this week across Afghanistan underscores the urgency of ending the conflict through a negotiated settlement. The suffering of the Afghan people must end.
I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to family and friends of the victims, all civilians, who once again suffered indescribable loss in the recent violence in northeast Afghanistan, in Kabul and elsewhere across the country.
The Taliban-claimed attack yesterday in Kabul caused more than 100 civilian casualties, most of them injured, according to initial findings. Days earlier, Taliban assaults in Kunduz and in Baghlan resulted in grave harm to the civilian population. There were scores of civilian casualties.
The United Nations remains concerned about the harm caused to civilians by the impact of pro-government aerial and search operations, including the 31 August aerial operation in Faryab that resulted in the death of 12 civilians and injured five others, the majority women and children.
In the context of so much suffering, now is the time to seek unity and solidarity. I have spoken with a broad spectrum of Afghanistan’s leaders, highlighting the importance of unity during this period leading to elections. Ensuring security in Kabul, and across the country, is an urgent priority, as this country continues to experience high numbers of civilian casualties.
As I have said repeatedly, the ultimate objective in Afghanistan must be a negotiated intra-Afghan settlement to the conflict. Meaningful steps must take place now to obtain an immediate and nationwide halt to violence. The United Nations stands ready to help.
I urge all members of the international community to continue to help put an end to this violence and support the progress made in building the foundations for a stable and lasting peace. I urge all parties, here in Afghanistan and abroad, to seize any opportunity for peace and come together in meaningful negotiations.
Tadamichi Yamamoto is the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).