Tom Koenigs, the outgoing Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, today voiced both hope for the strife-torn nation which is moving forward, but expressed concern for the country’s security situation.
“Afghanistan is moving from being a country decimated by decades of conflict to a progressive Islamic democracy striving to improve the lives of its peoples,” Mr. Koenigs – who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – said in his farewell remarks in Kabul.
“Despite the shared security challenge that we face, we have shown that progress can still be made, progress that can make a real and substantial difference to the lives of ordinary citizens.”
He stressed that efforts to secure and rebuild the country must continue. “Progress is being made to cement peace and stability for the Afghan people but I hear the frustration of people who want to see faster progress,” he said. “I share the same frustration.”
Afghanistan’s national army is getting stronger daily and is increasingly taking charge in protecting the country’s people, Mr. Koenigs, a German national, noted. Additionally, the international community has bolstered its support for the country.
“However we have always said that military might is not enough, this must be accompanied by equal efforts to bring schools, hospitals and jobs to the people,” he added.
To this end, during the nearly two years he has served as Special Representative, Mr. Koenigs said he doubled UNAMA’s presence across Afghanistan with eight new field offices, which are open every day to listen to the peopleâ??s needs and concerns.
He voiced optimism that peace Jirgas between tribal communities from both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border will further promote progress.
“The people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are both suffering and it is only by both peoples joining hands can we defeat those who bring terror and violence to our communities,” he stated.
Regarding human rights, the Special Representative underscored that true peace cannot be achieved without recognizing past abuses, defending human rights and strengthening the rule of law.
“We owe it to the victims to acknowledge their suffering and must make every effort to restore their dignity and make reparations for past abuses,” he said.
Unity is key in pushing Afghan rebuilding forward, Mr. Koenigs noted. “We should not waste our time in blame games or to judge success or failure right now,” he said, adding that “we must continue to stand united in all our efforts to deliver peace, stability and progress for the people.”