Afghanistan

Actor Jude Law and director Jeremy Gilley in Afghanistan to promote peace

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2008/Sweeting
Actor Jude Law (right) and director Jeremy Gilley at a press conference during a recent mission to Afghanistan, where they helped promote the International Day of Peace.

By Roshan Khadivi

KABUL, Afghanistan, 3 September 2008 – British actor and Peace One Day envoy Jude Law and Jeremy Gilley, film director and founder of Peace One Day campaign, travelled to Afghanistan for a two-day mission this week. While there, they screened a new documentary, ‘The Day After Peace’, about the efforts of ordinary Afghans in support of peace.

Mr. Law and Mr. Gilley also asked all parties involved in the conflict to observe Peace Day again this year. It is scheduled to take place on 21 September as part of the Peace One Day global campaign for ceasefires and non-violence.

“One story I heard, which is very exciting, was ... about civil groups in Afghanistan who arranged celebrations of a day of peace without the United Nations, simply because they like the idea of the day,” Mr. Law said in a radio interview with UNICEF. “And that made us suddenly realize that this is something people run with."

Documenting a day of peace

The documentary features activities that took place throughout Afghanistan in September 2007. It also highlights support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization for the peaceful immunization of 1.4 million children against polio in insecure areas.

The latest Afghanistan mission forms an important backdrop to this, Mr. Gilley’s second film, produced in association with the BBC. The film was recently screened at the Cannes film festival and is due to be shown in major film festivals this year and next.

While on their visit, Mr. Law and Mr. Gilley met with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, who praised their efforts to promote peace. Mr. Law said the film is “a tool that enables us to show the world that this country is more than a war-torn country and a country of violence, but instead, a country of great pride and great hope.”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2008/Sweeting
Director Jeremy Gilley screened his documentary, 'The Day After Peace', during his mission to Afghanistan with Jude Law.

Putting aside politics to reach every child

During September 2007, more than 10,000 vaccinators visited insecure areas in the southern and eastern regions of the country. The visit was part of ‘a National Immunization Days polio immunization campaign, which aimed to reach children who were missed in previous rounds due to conlict.

“We saw incredible commitments from everyone last year,” said UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue, who was part of a delegation visiting the southern region of Helmand during the 2007 polio campaign.

“This is about saving lives despite anyone’s political beliefs. We hope to see the same commitments that we saw last year from all parties to the conflict. Our goal is to reach every child in Afghanistan,” Ms. Mbengue added.

Countdown to peace

This year, UNICEF and the Youth Information Contact Centres in Afghanistan, as well as youth volunteers from the Afghan Red Crescent Society and other key partners, have organized many activities during the countdown to Peace Day.

The lead-up activities include poetry, drawing and drama contests, sports, peace marches and radio public service announcements, along with presentations in women’s literacy centres.

In addition, UNICEF and WHO, in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health, will provide polio vaccinations for 1.85 million children under we age of five. The immunizations will take place in seven Afghan provinces where insecurity has previously limited access.

A simple message

“If we are to move from a culture of war to a culture of peace, then we will have to unite around the most fundamental issue that humanity faces – the protection of each other and our environment. 21 September is the starting point,” Mr. Gilley replied when asked about his message to those who are destroying lives in the conflict.

Peace One Day supporters will celebrate 21 September with a special concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London featuring Annie Lennox and other well known musicians. The concert will feature videos and appearances by Mr. Law, UNICEF UK Goodwill Ambassador for Emergencies Martin Bell and other activists and celebrities.

Said Mr. Law: “The message is simple. What will you do to make peace on 21 September?”

 


 

 

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2 September 2008: UNICEF's Ash Sweeting reports on the visit by Jude Law and Jeremy Gilley to Kabul, Afghanistan, to call for Days of Peace and to screen the documentary, 'The Day After Peace'.
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2 September 2008: Filmmaker Jeremy Gilley and actor Jude Law talk about Peace Day and their film 'The Day After Peace' from Kabul, Afghanistan.
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