Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 244
Pledges and contributions
Saudi Arabia has donated US$250,000 to UNOCHA for the Humanitarian Assistance Programme for Afghanistan.
From the frontline
The general security situation in the country has been relatively quiet and no significant military activity has been reported.
To the north of Kabul, reports of sporadic fighting and more intense exchanges of rocket fire continued to be received during the past week. The front line is still 20-30 km to the north of the city. Reports of sporadic clashes between opposing sides on the Jalrez front were also received.
Although a gradual return to normal conditions is in progress, factional tension prevails in Mazar and the surrounding region. Security and law enforcement in the city is uncoordinated and civil administration has not yet been established.
The Province of Kunduz remains in control by Taliban forces. Further clashes against them from neighbouring Takhar Province were reported during the past week.
Reportedly, the Badghis front in the northwest remains active along the Morghab River.
Tensions remain in Kunar due to guerrilla activities.
Bamiyan food situation
The World Food Programme is preparing for an airlift of food supplies from Peshawar to Bamiyan. Wheat has started arriving from the north and distribution is already taking place. Wheat has been purchased in Kazakhastan and brought by train to Termez, near the Afghan border. Approximately 1000 tonnes of wheat have arrived in Termez and a consignment of 150 tonnes has gone to Bamiyan. Three thousand tonnes of locally produced potatoes and some wheat have reached 78,000 people living in the most affected parts of the region.
Participants at last weeks' Afghanistan Support Group meeting in New York expressed enthusiastic support for the new holistic Aid Strategy for Afghanistan. Almost 100 representatives of UN member states, UN agencies, NGOs and the ICRC attended the meeting, and endorsed the proposal to move towards establishing a single common assistance programme and independent evaluation capacity. It was, however, agreed that it was too early to start financing the programme out of a common fund.
Delegates debated the political situation in the country, noting the need to focus attention on external parties' involvement in the conflict as well as the different factions within Afghanistan. They also addressed the Human Rights, the gender issues and the UNDCP poppy eradication programme.
The State Secretary from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs chaired the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in London in May 1998, and will be co-chaired by the United Kingdom and the USA.
Disabled person's day
December 3 was marked in Peshawar and in different parts of Afghanistan, by activities celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons. The CDAP office in Peshawar held an event attended by 150 representatives from various agencies and the media. Awards were presented to disabled individuals who had contributed to the cause in Afghanistan and also to those who had shown particular determination to come to terms with their own situation. Inside Afghanistan, CDAP marked the day in Herat, Mazar, Ghazni, Taluqan and Kandahar with parades sport events and exhibitions.
FAO Crops, ISRA and MADERA met last week to discuss an ongoing integrated project using farmer "field schools" and community trainers. The objective is to protect fruit trees, nuts and grapes from pests and diseases. The discussion included topics, such as cost sharing, technical messages and misuse of pesticides. It was concluded that direct cost sharing was not feasible for ISRA and MADERA. They have to work within their mandates, but it was agreed that it could be done if their activities were expanded to other districts.
It was also agreed that FAO would be the source of all technical messages. A working group will be established with NGO partners to prepare data for analysis.
FAO has provided technical guidelines for the correct use of pesticides, but these have not reached all their partners. They will invite uninformed partners to agree on common interventions.
The updated version of the school database is available at ACBAR. It provides figures on number of schools, teachers, students and the supporting agency or organisation. The data is presented according to its geographical location.
During the last week the Human Rights Rapporteur, Professor Paik visited Kabul for two days meeting the authorities, UN agencies and NGOs.
Twenty students from the Post-war Recovery and Development Department at the University of York, UK, visited Kabul. The group was there to see rehabilitation activities and to discuss concerned issues.
UNOCHA has approved US$13,355 for emergency assistance to the Orphans of Tahea Maskin Project in Kabul. Shoes, towels, sheets and heating fuel will be provided. CARE International has provided 150 quilts and HELP Germany 1,100 sweaters to the orphans. DFID has donated UK Pounds 245,000 for a programme to get orphans back to their families.
UNICEFs' repair and installation of hand pumps in Kabul is estimated to benefit 3,000 families.
Within the context of the UNDP funded, consolidated P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, UNOPS has completed two canal drainage projects in Yakawlang district of Bamiyan Province. As a result, over 2000 jeribs of land have been restored for wheat production.
MADERA has started a mineral food blocks manufacturing project in Jalalabad. Local resources are used and the aim is to provide a cheap supplement to mineral feeding of animals.
FAO Crops has implemented an integrated crop and food production project in Jalalabad. The project is funded by UNDP and the objective is to increase the production of improved cereal seeds.
UNHCR is funding a shelter assistance project in Sayedkaram district in Paktia Province. The project is implemented by DACAAR and the objective is to assist repatriated families in rebuilding their houses. A total of 103 families will benefit from the project.
UNOPS has initiated the implementation of a flood protection project in Faizabad in Badakshn Province. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the community and benefit of 10,000 persons.
UNOPS has facilitated the formation of four Village Cluster Development Committees (CVDCs) in Faizabad. With these community organisations, seven workshops have been conducted, to build the community capacity of rehabilitation and development planning.