A UN Security Council resolution has extended the mandate of its mission (known commonly as UNAMA) in Afghanistan until March 17th of next year, whilst calling on the Afghan government, with international support, to tackle the threat posed by extremist groups, such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Islamic State, and other groups. It aims to continue supporting the Afghan government, whilst helping to coordinate international civilian efforts and organize future Afghan elections, including the upcoming parliamentary elections and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid. This move is seen as a reaction to the presence and potential growth of IS (Islamic State) affiliates, along with the Taliban, who have advanced on several fronts in 2016, marking another chapter in the group’s 15-year insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government
The UN’s role in Afghanistan is now seen as crucial since the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have notably struggled to counter the aforementioned threat posed by the likes of IS and the Taliban, both of whom seek to expand their respective footprints in Afghanistan and other countries in the region. Much of this can be traced to the withdrawal of US and NATO forces at the end of their combat missions in 2014, with one of the results being the record number of civilian casualties, which, as reported in February of this year, was caused by up to 3,498 suicide attacks in populated areas. The attacks, in which a further 7,920 have been injured, have been characterized by the deliberate killing of women and children, including those promoting women’s rights and journalists.
Due to the number of children killed in the conflict this year (923), this calls for continued support efforts to strengthen the protection of children affect by armed conflict, whilst stressing the importance of establishing a fair and transparent justice system have been made. The resolution, which appears to be aimed at tackling a wide range of issues that play a part in either escalating or exacerbating the conflict, has called for strengthening efforts, such as bilateral transit trade agreements, expanded consular visa cooperation, and facilitation of business travel to expand trade, increase foreign investments, and develop infrastructure with a view to promoting sustainable economic growth and the creation of jobs in Afghanistan and the region. Accomplishing these objectives would fall in line with UNAMA’s mission of supporting an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
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