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Violence across Afghanistan underscores urgency of ending conflict: Aisha Khurram

Complete speech of Aisha Khurram, Afghanistan’s Youth Representative of the United Nations at UNSC.

One early morning a young father was having a walk with his children, in the quiets of his village. As the father slowed to fix his ride, his children being told so went ahead. Not a few moments went by, when a horrific sound shook their fragile little hearts beating in pace, as they rushed back to their father is when they saw him in pieces, and what left of him: on fire they hurried to put off the fire of what was left of their beloved guardian and then they rushed to gather his pieces… Sohaila only and Wajidullah are yet to realize they are the victims of a drone strike.

And a few short miles away from this scene there was an orphanage where I visited the orphans of the age of war. Most of them victims of suicide bombing attacks, a scene that has forever changed my life: When I heard one Royina voicing for the rest with her words cracking everyone’s heart in the room, speaking of her miseries. Another Zuhra only [9] lost her father in a rogue suicide bombing attack in Kabul. That was the moment they each lost not only a parent but their future, a breadwinner who had have to take their hands throughout their childhood, now, eyes filled with tears one cried out the words: “how can I think of the future? I just don’t want to peddle on the streets all my childhood!

Bismillah Rahman Rahim ,

Your Excellency Madam. president, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

I’m privileged to address the United Nations Security Council in the capacity of Afghan youth representative to United Nations.

The events that marked the beginning of my speech are not recounts from the last century nor from the medieval age, this humanitarian catastrophe is the reality of our age. And for this we all will be judged by the history as history judged those before us.

For the injustice that we allow!

And for the silence that we chose!

Are we still deluded we will be forgiven?

These are rare scenes for many people in this world but we are living this reality, over 100 people are killed or wounded on daily basis in my country, they have families, it’s hard to explain what they feel and go through when they see dead bodies of their beloved ones, civilians in particular youth and children became witnesses and victims that are often being caught in the increasingly ruthless violence carried out by warring parties.

Ladies and gentlemen

This war has crushed hopes, destroyed dreams and perished innocent lives, but amidst this chaos we, the Afghan youth, commend the 2250 resolution of this very council, which has bestowed upon me the privilege and the responsibility to deliver the genuine messages and share the concerns of the Afghan youth, mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history. I applaud the efforts of Afghans for progressive thinking organization and the German embassy in Kabul which has, in collaboration with the UN availed, this remarkable opportunity to the Afghan youth.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Violence across Afghanistan underscores the urgency of ending the conflict through a negotiated settlement. This war is an imposition upon the Afghan people, the product of a great game, and we are dragged into it by no will of our own and we’re made its primary victims.18 years of ground and aerial operations have not succeeded in bringing an end to the conflict. We want a peace that is balanced and sustained to prevent crises like these from ever happening again.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet at a time when Afghanistan is in a critical but highly uncertain situation, the ongoing peace process, presidential elections and the possible foreign troops withdrawal are going hand in hand to define the fate and future of our country, at a time when Afghans are deeply frustrated and weary of the continued violence.

This isn’t just a war on terrorism anymore, this is now a war against innocent civilians that want nothing but peace. And the most heartfelt cries you will hear from an Afghan victim of the sufferings of this calamity will be: “stop the war! Cease the killings! The afghan villages aren’t a threat to anyone!”

Afghanistan is one of the most youthful country in the world, 63% of our country’s population is under 25 years old, therefore

The greatest price of this conflict is not paid by the politicians and battlefield elites it’s paid by the Afghan children and Afghan youth. Violent conflict have plagued our country for decades, and this exposure to violence and uncertainty has shaped the lives of young Afghans. So I am here for them because this is their united nations also and my generation trusted that the truth alone will guarantee international action.

Madam President,

The message I deliver today on behalf of Afghanistan’s younger generation is one of hope but at this critical moment in time, this hope is overtaken by fear, the fear of being excluded; the fear of being forgotten and sacrificed.

Over the past two months I bolstered my efforts to reach out to as many young people as I could, I’ve been to several universities, visiting academic institutions, orphanage, and community groups. I’ve started an online survey, initiated an hash tag on social media with the name of Afghan youth call, I met young people from almost all provinces of Afghanistan in national youth assembly for peace and traveled outside Kabul province and organized round table discussions,

Mile after mile that I travelled,

Door after door that I knocked,

Community after community that I conversed with,

All I found was a shared craving for peace. One common message, Echoed over and over again: “We want peace, a safe life, access to education, and we want to have a voice in the decisions that will affect our future.”

Reconciliation and peace is right now the highest priority in Afghanistan and the key to ensuring reconciliation is sustainable is ensuring that Afghan youth voices from both sides of the conflict are considered in the peace process. Since this peace belongs to the people of Afghanistan more than it does to anyone else, it should bear our endorsement and our endorsement alone will ensure legitimacy to any deal that the peace process may entail.

And the endorsement of our people in particular the Afghan youth will have to be earned. And it will be earned only if the miles we have walked the path of progress is respected, only if our achievements are preserved and our rights are protected.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s been almost a year since peace negotiations between Taliban and the united states are taking place in Doha Qatar, the Afghan youth want a transparent and watchful mechanism that protect their rights and achievements in any possible peace deal, because in the place that we stand today comes after so much efforts and sacrifices.

In this crucial moment of our history we want the untiring and sincere efforts of the united nations security council to play an active role and become the guarantor for our rights in the peace agreement.

My people, my fellow Afghan youth want you to:

Commit to peace, they want an end for suicide bombing attacks , air strikes and night raids now . And we believe that the future will be forged by deeds not simply words, speeches alone will not solve our problems, it will take sincere efforts and persistent action to bring peace and stability back to Afghanistan.

My fellow Afghan youth demonstrate the marvel of human resolve at the time of widespread violence and humanitarian catastrophe to rebuild, to learn, to love and to live.

Our schools, universities and academic institutions were bombed, hundreds of our fellow young people lost their lives, but the next morning we went back to our classrooms. Those bombs, bullets and attacks could never silence us, we went back every day we deal with risks because we understand that doesn’t matter how much our lives are threatened on daily basis we don’t have future without education, I assure you of the strong resolve of the Afghan youth for rebuilding their own country, they are driven to build their country under fire if they must, they will continue to attend their schools under bombs if they must. we do not want the future generations to look back and wonder why we refused to act, why we failed to pass on a situation that was worthy of their inheritance.

Even though there will be setbacks, false starts, and tough days but we will never waiver on our pursuit for peace.

We have a youthful, productive and dynamic population that do not only crave for peace but fearlessly work for it at every level, Afghanistan’s first robotic- girls team comprised of young girls participated in the first global challenge tasked with building their own robot for the competition and they’ve captivated public with their own inspiring message of hope and determination, they proved that after years of darkness young Afghan boys and girls across the country can finally take charge and aspires to be the masters of their own destiny.

A message, that I should take to my fellow young Afghans today should be the one of reassurance that they are heard, and that a war so futile, a war so aimless should no longer darken their days, rattle their nights, and destroy their lives.

If the humanity is to prevail the ill will of a few then it must be here and now that I get a commitment from the intl community, from this very council a resounding confirmation that yes we stand for the human rights; that yes every innocent life matters; that yes we are at an age where the humanity will prevail all else. It is here I should take your commitment to push forward with the peace process with the primary objective of preserving human dignity; of ending this infamous humanitarian catastrophe. As these are the values that must supersede and not national interests.

Let me put forward 4 pillars that I believe are fundamental to the future we want for the Afghan youth and upcoming generations.

1- The need for the United Nations Security Council to play a proactive role in the Afghan peace process.

2- Preservation of our rights and achievements in any possible peace agreement guaranteed by the united nations security council.

3- An immediate end to the ongoing violence and country wide ceasefire.

And

4- The substantive inclusion of all Afghan youth including young Taliban in the peace process.

We the Afghan youth are committed to build a society of coexistence/ peace and tolerance. We stand together with youth from all across the globe to advance the cause of humanity. Let us build a peaceful and prosperous world together.

So with the commitment in my generation’s will for bringing a positive change I call on the global community to join and support us in building a future that my generation so richly deserve.

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