On April 26, the Danish Refugee Council’s Diaspora Programme (DRC) and the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) convened an online public webinar to examine the progress of the peace talks between the Afghan government’s delegation and the Taliban negotiators. The online event Followed the announcement of the withdrawal of troops by the US and NATO, and was attended by 130+ participants, with nearly 4,000 following or watching the video on social media. The event focused on the progress of peace talks, the view from the ground across Afghanistan, participation of civil society including Afghan diaspora, protection of women’s and minorities’ rights, and the measures that are needed to prevent Afghanistan from falling into another chapter of civil war.
The talk was attended by Fawzia Koofi, a female peace negotiator from the Afghan government delegation, Dr. Sima Samar, the former head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, the Afghan Journalist Bilal Sarwary and Rahela Sediqi, women’s rights activist from the Afghan diaspora in the UK. This online event was moderated by Sana Safi, BBC journalist based in London.
President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of the United States’ combat forces from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington. Meanwhile, the Turkish government is aiming at hosting a U.N.-led conference on the peace process in Afghanistan after Ramadan and Eid festivities. The upcoming peace conference should serve as a platform for the Taliban and the Afghan government to reach an agreement to end the war in Afghanistan. A cease-fire and the creation of an interim government to secure peace are expected to be the main topics of discussions. However, the slow pace of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban thus far suggests it will be difficult to reduce violence and reach a political settlement before US troops are withdrawn. U.S and NATO officials have continually said that the Taliban have so far failed to live up to their commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
The panel discussion was part of the DRC’s Diaspora programme ADEE initiative in cooperation with the VIDC. The project aims at supporting increased dialogue and agency within the Afghan diaspora in Europe as well as between the Afghan diaspora and the Afghan Government. This new project will strive to improve coordination, increase collaboration across organisations and facilitate higher level of engagement and influence for the Afghan diaspora in Europe.
Upcoming online events will cover topics such as: Advocacy on the situation in Afghanistan & consultations on the Afghan National Diaspora Engagement Policy.
15:35 – 16:50: Panel discussion
16:50 – 17:00 Closing remarks and follow up
Fawzia Koofi is a member of peace negotiation team representing Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, she was recently nominated for the Nobel peace prize. After the fall of the Taliban, she continued law faculty night shift while still working with UNICEF Afghanistan on women and children's rights.
Sima Samar is a renowned advocate of human and women's rights in Afghanistan. She was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She has recently been appointed as the new member of United Nation’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.
Bilal Sarwary is an Afghan journalist based in Kabul. He is a former longtime producer and reporter for the BBC World Service, he has also appeared regularly on France 24, Radio New Zealand, Turkish Radio and Television, CNN, CBC, and Al Jazeera English.
Rahela Sidiqi is the founding director of the diaspora organization Rahela Trust, UK. The Rahela Trust was set up in response to the many attacks on girls and young women seeking an education across Afghanistan. She is member of steering committee for Afghanistan Mechanism for Inclusive Peace (AMIP) also co-founder and strategic member of the Afghan Women’s Network.
Sana Safi is a Senior Presenter for the daily BBC News Pashto TV news programme, BBC Naray Da Wakht (BBC World Right Now). Nearly 1.5 million people connect with her on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Ali Ahmad is a PhD candidate at the Department for Migration and Globalization at the Danube University Krems. Ahmad works as a consultant for the VIDC since 2015.
Adrien Bory is a Project Coordinator at the Danish Refugee Council’s Diaspora Programme. He leads the initiative "Afghan Diaspora Engagement in Europe".