With days to go before the end of a nine-week peace campaign in Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reiterated its call for a total cessation of violence countrywide on and around 21 September, Peace Day.
The appeal came as teams of UN and government health workers began a three day polio immunization effort in insurgency affected areas of Afghanistan’s south and east. The immunization drive aims to take advantage of the window of opportunity for accessing children in need created by the Peace Day campaign.
“We call again upon the entire community, every woman, man, and child, to support genuinely and in whatever way they can this effort for a real Peace Day in Afghanistan,” said Bo Asplund, UNAMA Deputy Special Representative. “To save even a single life is a success.”
Peace Day is marked each year by UN member states on 21 September. But this year in Afghanistan the day has been the focus of a campaign that began on 19 July when UNAMA teamed up with Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day, actor Jude Law, and the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) to promote Peace Day. Multiple partners have since joined in, including businesses, civil society, government, international donors, UN agencies, politicians, Afghan celebrities and performers as well as individual citizens. The effort has become the biggest peace campaign in Afghanistan ever. On 11 September Special Representative Tom Koenigs, accompanied by the heads of nearly every UN agency in Afghanistan, appealed for a complete cessation of violence countrywide.
Afghanistan is one of four countries that still suffers endemic polio, the others being India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Insecurity has meant that many districts in the southern region have been missed in recent polio immunization drives. According to Unicef and the World Health Organization five children have been paralyzed from this preventable disease in recent weeks.
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