Demand for peace by violence-plagued Afghans overwhelming UN

Later this week, thousands of people across Afghanistan will be marking the International Day of Peace, a commemoration that takes on particular significance in the South Asian nation that has this year witnessed some of the worst violence since the overthrow of the Taliban, including yesterday’s deadly attack on a United Nations humanitarian convoy.

Sunday’s attack, which claimed the lives of three UN staff members, along with Saturday’s assassination of a provincial governor, serve as reminders of the need for a peace campaign in a country that has been plagued by violence, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“The aim is to give voice to those who want peace in this country,” UNAMA spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Kabul today. “And what we are seeing is that the demand for peace is overwhelming.”

He said the scale of events being planned for this year’s celebration of Peace Day, marked annually on 21 September, is “unprecedented” and involves citizens, educational institutions, businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as UN agencies.

“In contrast to the conflict and violence around us, the peace campaign in Afghanistan in 2008 is potentially the biggest this country has seen,” Mr. Edwards stated.

Among the many activities planned, shops across the country will be hoisting blue flags for peace outside their businesses and telecom companies will be sending out SMS peace messages. In addition, a special concert is being organized at Royal Albert Hall in London by the organization Peace One Day and international celebrities, such as actor Jude Law.

“We believe the voices for peace in Afghanistan deserve to be heard and we hope with this week that they will be heard,” said Mr. Edwards.