Afghanistan ‘too important’ to be forgotten: Lyons


The outgoing UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, in a farewell statement said that “Afghanistan is too important to the international community to be forgotten.”

Lyons mentioned and assessed some of the events that took place during her tenure as the UN special envoy for Afghanistan.

“First, we have a historical legacy. The United Nations has had a political, human rights, humanitarian, and development presence in Afghanistan since the late 1980s. We have had some successes and some failures and as a result of the latter we have a moral responsibility to remain,” the statement said. “Second, we need to address the needs of the most vulnerable Afghans through humanitarian assistance and support to their basic human needs. Third, Afghanistan is too important to the international community to be forgotten.”

The statement said that UNAMA will remain as a “credible observer and reporter” on events on the ground and a reliable link between the Afghan people, the de facto authorities, and the international community. She also expressed frustration over the lack of schooling for Afghan girls.

“I could not have imagined, when I accepted this job, the Afghanistan that I am now leaving. My heart breaks in particular for the millions of Afghan girls who are denied their right to education, and the many Afghan women full of talent who are being told to stay at home instead of using those talents to rebuild a society that now experiences far less conflict but in some ways as much fear as before,” Lyons said.

The UN special envoy said that a “system that excludes women, minorities, and talented people will not endure, and that at the same time it is possible to construct a polity that is both inclusive and Islamic.” Lyons was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as his special envoy for Afghanistan on March 24, 2020.

The three-year long mission of the UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, is ending. Lyons’ has been publicly thanked by European Union representatives and Afghanistan-focused diplomats, Islamic Emirate officials and top Afghan politicians.

The EU Ambassador to Afghanistan, Andreas von Brandt, told TOLOnews that Lyons has made efforts to improve the human rights’ situation in Afghanistan. “I have always appreciated her insights, her collegiality, her wisdom and her determination to work and do the best for the people of Afghanistan,” he said. Lyons held farewell meetings with senior officials of the Islamic Emirate.

The Ministry of Interior on Saturday said that acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani met with Deborah Lyons, outgoing UN special envoy for Afghanistan. Haqqani praised Lyons work in Afghanistan as “positive,” the ministry said on Twitter.

The former chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), Abdullah Abdullah, said in a tweet that he met Lyons and “discussed the latest developments in the country. At the end of her tenure, I thanked her for her services in Afghanistan, and wished her all the best in her future.”

The Islamic Emirate has praised Lyons’ work in Afghanistan. “Her (Lyons) activities regarding cooperation with the people of Afghanistan is considered positive by the Islamic Emirate,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate. It is yet to be clear who will replace Lyons.

Meanwhile, women’s rights activists expressed frustration over the deterioration of human rights in Afghanistan. “If the UN and other countries are sending any envoy to Afghanistan, they should hear the voice of the women in Afghanistan,” said Darya Nishat, a women’s rights activist.—Tolonews

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