PHOTO FEATURE: A day in the life of Nicholas Haysom, UN deputy chief in Afghanistan

Deputy Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Political Affairs Nicholas Haysom arrives in the region on an official visit. Photo: UNAMA/Aurora V. Alambra

29 July 2013 – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is a special political mission established by the Security Council in 2002 at the request of the Government to assist it and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the country.

The Mission has adopted a comprehensive approach to address Afghanistan’s security, economic, governance and development challenges as it was felt there is no “purely military solution” to ensure stability. The Mission focuses on two main areas of activities: political affairs and coordination of development and humanitarian issues, both of which fall under the responsibility of a Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

UNAMA’s Deputy Special Representative for political affairs is Nicholas “Fink” Haysom. With presidential and provincial council elections scheduled for April 2014, the principal concern is how the United Nations can be of greater assistance in national efforts to bring about a stable and transparent political transition, by building confidence and promoting national reconciliation. Mr. Haysom’s spectrum of tasks includes listening to the concerns of community representatives, political parties and traditionally marginalized groups, such as women and youth, as well as contributing to human rights protection and promotion, including monitoring the situation of civilians in the armed conflict.

This photo story provides a behind the scenes look at how UN officials work to support the process of peace and reconciliation. Mr. Haysom’s visit to Faizabad in the northeast province of Badakhshan bordering Tajikistan, Pakistan and China took place in July 2013.

Mr. Haysom, a proponent of meeting people directly in the regions, has visited almost all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces during his 16 months so far with UNAMA.

“While Kabul is the capital and, in many ways the centre of Afghanistan, Afghanistan is much more than Kabul – the meetings held during these visits are a key part in garnering the views and thoughts of the UN’s various interlocutors throughout the country,” he said.

In addition to Faizabad, UNAMA has 12 other provincial and regional offices across Afghanistan charged with carrying out political outreach, the promotion of peace, development coherence and human rights. In addition, some of the UN agencies with a presence in Afghanistan include UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN World Food Programme (WFP), addressing the spectrum of development challenges faced by the Afghan people.

Each office is also responsible for analyzing the political and security situation, monitoring security sector reform and the transition process, and promoting regional cooperation. These activities involve going out to the provinces districts. In 2012, UNAMA staff from Badakhshan visited 15 of its 27 districts.


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