Afghanistan + 4 more

Afghanistan humanitarian update 01- 31 May 2002

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


HUMANITARIAN ISSUES
REFUGEE AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED POPULATIONS

Returning Refugees

In May, the pace of returns of refugees continued to accelerate and have exceeded planning expectations. As of the end of May, the total number of facilitated returns of refugees from Iran and Pakistan reached over 800,000. An urban bias in the returns is evident, with most returnees heading for Nangarhar and Kabul. In Kabul city increased pressure on social infrastructures due to close to 300,000 new arrivals since 1 March, mainly returning from Pakistan, is of increasing concern. The massive returns, combined with a large number of news agencies, donors, businesses, and humanitarian organizations renting houses in the better parts of the city, have caused price hikes in housing and goods that are unreachable for many returnees and residents alike. Pressure continues to build on the feeding centers in the city with over 12 % of the admitted patients at some centers coming from the returnee community. With such high rates of return, increased focus on and funding for shelter will be required. In some cases, supplies for returnees are insufficient, and families are being given coupons to redeem parts of their entitlements later.


Facilitated Refugee/IDP Returns
(As of 26 March)
REFUGEES
ESTIMATED
From Pakistan
730,000
From Iran
60,000
From Tajikistan
10,000
From Turkmenistan
27
Sub-total
800,027
IDPs
160,000
TOTAL
960,027

Over 730,0000 Afghans have returned from Pakistan, and over 60,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Iran. UNHCR began a new system of cash grants to cover the travel costs of Afghan refugees returning home from Pakistan based on the variations in length and destinations of the journey back to Afghanistan. In addition, all cash grants are to be issued per person and not on a family basis.

Returns of both refugees from Iran and of internally displaced persons in the camps in and around Herat were jeopardized by a transport cartel that was charging prices far in excess of market prices. This problem was partially resolved in a joint meeting between IOM, UNHCR, WFP, ICRC, and the Herat authorities in which fairer rates were negotiated.

Internally Displaced People (IDPs)

Although the flow of fleeing Pashtuns from Faryab and Badghis has reduced, the issue is still there. In some cases, those who leave say they are doing so to find work or to avoid being conscripted during drives. Other evidence suggests that Pashtuns are being displaced not so much for ethnic reasons but for gain, with landowners as the primary targets. In the south, an estimated 50 families a day continue to arrive in areas such as the camps in Spin Boldak.

However, in most areas of the country, including the south, east, west, northeast, and north, displaced populations have been returning to their areas of origin. The total number of 160,000 returnees IDPs includes over 60,000 in the west alone and 15,000 from Hesar Shahi camp in Jalalabad. Most residents of Makaki camp and Mile 46 camp, both of which closed in May, have also returned home. Over 1,100 displaced persons in Kabul were helped to relocate back to Bamyan, and 560 families still wish to return from Kabul. However, the program is currently on hold due to IOM's funding crisis. In Bamyan, in late April, 1,400 Hazara families moved out of mainly Tajik homes in Bamyan district with UNHCR support. In end of May to early June, UNHCR will help 513 Tajik families scattered around the area to return to Bamyan and especially to the houses now freed up.

However, IDP return has been affected by the funding problems encountered by IOM, which was forced to suspend returns from Maslakh on 9 May and returns from Kabul to Bamyan on 5 May due to lack of funding. As of the end of the month, the IOM IDP return program is still on hold, and as of 31 May, IOM was forced to suspend indefinitely its entire Afghan internal transport network due to lack of funding. A major component of IOM's Afghan programme, the network provided transport for refugees from Iran and internally displaced people returning to their homes from IDP camps.

The aid community in the west is split on the IDP return issue. Several NGOs have expressed serious concern that IDPS were returning to Badghis and other areas where the return could prove unsustainable. Return is seen to be premature with little preparation on the ground and little or misguided information provided to IDPs before their departure, although efforts are now underway to close the information gap. Some NGOs also allege that IDPs were being forced to go back (i.e. "there will be no more assistance if you don't go now"). The risk is that many will drift back to Herat as soon as winter comes. In her report, presented to USAID, Sue Lautze of Tufts University expressed the same concern about IDP return, especially in relation to water availability.

The camps in the west continue to operate, with IOM responsible for camp management in Herat until the end of September. Meanwhile, contingency plans are being developed to avoid disruption in managing the camps.

Assistance programs of UN and NGO's are being oriented towards more recovery and reconstruction activities, such as FFW supported road rehabilitation, cleaning of irrigation canals, school reconstruction, etc. Community service activities under the UNHCR integration programs are underway.

Almost half of Afghanistan's IDPs are in southern Afghanistan, the vast majority of whom are drought displaced. Among these, a large proportion come from the nomadic Kochi community. Since the beginning of 2002, a further 40,000 people, mainly Pashtun, have arrived, who have fled persecution in the north and the west.

Of particular concern are those displaced in the "waiting area" at the Chaman border and in Spin Boldak. In Chaman, the displaced are in a difficult situation with poor water and sanitation, lack of shelter, and irregular food supplies. A recent assessment of the IDP camps in Spin Boldak district center as well as the 'waiting area' at Chaman/Vesh border found that approximately 25,000 IDPs are currently at the 'waiting area' and about 40,000 IDPs are in the five camps in Spin Boldak district center. Increasingly, the climatic conditions, with temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius coupled with frequent dust and sand storms, make the 'waiting area' a potential death trap. Proper and immediate registration of the IDPs at the 'waiting area' as well as in the organized IDP camps in Spin Boldak district center is on the books. An estimated 5,000 IDPs in the 'waiting area' and around 10,000 IDPs in the Spin Boldak district center IDP camps are willing, with some support, to return to their areas/places of origin. Those IDPs in the 'waiting area' and in the Spin Boldak district center IDP camps who cannot return to their places of origin yet, either due to drought or due to conflict, will be helped with temporary relocation in ten settlements in the south. Those who do not wish to return include Pashtuns from the northern provinces who fear ethnic persecution and persons who have lost their livelihoods. There are, in addition, refugee families returning from Pakistan to Faryab who have elected to remain in Kandahar, as well as families from the closed Mile 46 and Makaki (Zaranj) camps, who have decided to stay in Dilaram (a transit center) where they spontaneously created a camp.

SNAPSHOT OF KEY HUMANITARIAN ISSUES

Protection and Human Rights

UN investigations of three mass gravesites in Daoudi village in Bamyan, Mazar airport area, and Shebergan were concluded on 5 May. The forensics experts also conducted a preliminary assessment of domestic forensic capacity. In Bamyan, the eighteen victims died of gunshot wounds. In Shebergan, initial indications were that the evidence was consistent with death by suffocation. However, the final report is awaited.

As indicated above in the discussion of IDP return from the camps in the west, there is a need for establishing minimum standards for return and resettlement. For example, in a village in southern Charikar district, about 4,000-5,000 people were assisted to return to an area with no potable water and with the nearest functioning health clinic eight to nine kilometers away. Water was trucked in for only two weeks, and for a month, the population did not have adequate potable water. A short term of solution of trucking in more water was devised, to be followed by digging wells and establishing a clinic. However, the incident underscores the need for establishing minimum standards that the humanitarian community and authorities must adhere to.

UNICEF's child protection programme, announced in April, is working on five important aspects of protection: juvenile justice and legal protection; the reintegration of child soldiers and war affected youth; social protection for vulnerable children and women; capacity building for psycho-social support; and mine awareness. In addition, UNHCR has put in place 22 protection officers in eight UNHCR offices in Afghanistan. As well as promoting the rights of ethnic minorities, the officer will establish co-existence projects along with other agencies.

Health

Four rounds of immunization days have been planned for 2002, targeting six million children. The first and second rounds, covering 5.8 million children, occurred in April and May. In addition, a Vitamin A campaign targeting 5 million children was initiated this month. Other interventions have included the provision of essential drugs and medical supplies (covering some 7 million people), the development of mental health services, and the rebuilding of infrastructure and capacity for Reproductive Health and Maternal and Child Health Care.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan and NGOs, WHO has recently carried out an evaluation of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Kabul. The situation in Kabul appears to be particularly severe, with an estimated 200,000 cases. The disease, for which the sand fly is the vector, is prevalent in Afghanistan and in some areas of Pakistan.

WHO and other partners are developing an emergency plan of action to control the situation, at least in Kabul. Priority interventions include provision of impregnated bed nets, early treatment of cases, recruitment and training of intervention teams, and health education. WHO has already provided drugs for the treatment of 35,000 patients.

In addition to the problem of leishmaniasis, Afghanistan is facing the threat of the outbreak of summer's infectious diseases, including malaria, diarrhea, skin diseases, and food poisoning. According to WHO, the rise in the population of Kabul and other cities because of the repatriation of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people has increased the risk of outbreak of diseases. WHO is also working with Afghan local health authorities to prevent possible outbreaks of cholera during the coming summer months. Inter-Agency Cholera Task Forces have been put in place throughout Afghanistan, including in Kabul, Faizabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat and Jalalabad. They are engaging in health education, chlorination of shallow wells and water sources, disease surveillance, and preparation of medical supplies.

Education

As a continuation of the Back to School Programme, the rapid assessment of learning spaces is currently ongoing, with assessments carried out in Mazar and Nangarhar. Assessments in other areas are still being carried out. All results and analysis are expected by the end of June. Very preliminary information from the areas assessed so far indicates that, as expected, girls' enrolment is up. Orientation of teachers on new teaching materials is continuing throughout the country, and should be completed by the end of June. An advocacy campaign is ongoing at Pul-i-Charki center to provide information to returnees on education for their children and for teachers to return to school. Another center will soon open in Jalalabad.

Food Aid/Food Security

The locust problem this year in northern Afghanistan was estimated as potentially twice as bad as last year, and the most severe infestation in thirty years, largely because the outbreak last year could not be controlled. Provinces affected included Baghlan, Samangan, Kunduz, Saripul, Faryab, Jawzjan, and Badghis. In Baghlan and Samangan, flying adult locusts emerged from undetected breeding grounds in the hills this month, and it is believed that the situation was similar in parts of Kunduz. FAO and various NGOs worked to control the outbreak through both mechanical and chemical means, including spraying pesticides from helicopters, motorized sprayers, and hand-held sprayers. FAO held a training course in Maimana, Faryab Province, on the use of chemical and mechanical control. Fifty-two attendees participated, including all technical staff of the Department of Agriculture, of whom one-third were women. This was the first opportunity they had to re-engage with their professional activities after the departure of the Taliban. According to aid agencies in the north, losses of crops are expected to be in the range of 5%.

WFP's REFNA/AFSU missions continued in May, in Ishkamish and Farkhar in northern region, in Sharistan district of the Central Highlands, Pasaband and Jawand district in western region and other areas. The analysis in Jawand indicates that this is the worst area in terms of health and food security. In other areas, the drought has also had a negative impact on livestock and crop production, but Jawand was particularly hard hit because the district is more isolated from markets and health care facilities. An acute water shortage has prevented people from planting as much as they would in a normal year. Even the wealthier do not have enough milking livestock to meet nutritional needs. Reliance on wild foods is increasing. While relief food is being distributed, it is not reaching the most vulnerable. There has been heavy reliance on taking loans and selling of assets for survival.

The findings of a USAID sponsored food security study, conducted by Sue Lautze of Tufts University, covering 1,100 households across Afghanistan are emerging. Although the study was not necessarily representative, it pointed a grimmer picture of the situation than is commonly recognized. The survey found that over the last three years the percentage of the families in the sample group who were "food secure" declined from 59% to only 9%. Of note are the following:

  • The humanitarian crisis is continuing; Afghanistan is not a classic post-conflict situation.

  • There has been major depletion of assets and the exhaustion of coping mechanisms.

  • Levels of indebtedness and thus losses of land are highly alarming.

  • Landless laborers with several children are at special risk.

  • Many returnees had not been informed about how bad conditions were and how little assistance was available.

  • Widespread food insecurity exists across the country and should be expected to continue for the next year.

Specific recommendations the report made to USAID: increase humanitarian assistance; do more with cash, without relying on food when cash will solve the problem; invest in roads.

A consultant arrived in Mazar to carry out a study of the Kochis, who are less numerous in the north than in the south and the west. As the Kochis migrate, they use agricultural land and hence land tenure issues are of major importance to their livelihoods. Land ownership and user rights have been and are influenced directly by socio-political factors. Ongoing ethnic tensions and restricted access to pasture lands in Hazarajat are likely to impact on the pastoralists in the coming season. The full report is expected at the end of June.

A technical working group was established with WFP, SC-UK, ACF, JDA, GOAL and the Youth and Children Development Programme (YCDP), a grassroots Afghan volunteer group with membership across the country. The group is working on establishing a food security indicator surveillance system for the northern areas.

The Joint WFP-FAO Crop Assessment Mission has begun in Afghanistan, and all information for all areas except the Central Highlands will have been collected by 15 June. A 56-member mission of FAO, WFP, NGOs, and the Ministry of Agriculture will assess the Central Highlands around 15 June, since the harvest is later there. Results of the survey are expected at the end of June. There is a marked rise in expected agricultural output in most parts of the country because of higher annual rainfalls in early 2002 than has been the case over the last three years. Despite this, preliminary indications are that drought may continue in the south, east, and Hazarajat. In the south, for example, while initial indications are that the area has received slightly more rain than last year, it has not broken the drought. Lack of precipitation has been one factor in the resumption of poppy cultivation since poppies are drought resistant and farmers need to irrigate far less area for the same economic gain.

Water and Sanitation

As noted in the last monthly report, three years of drought and unsustainable water exploitation have resulted in an alarming drop in the water table. The situation will only be further exacerbated by the return of such large numbers of refugees, as is already being seen in Kabul. In the south, for example, although the aid community has drilled or rehabilitated some 1,500 wells in the area, 75% of the population does not have access to safe water, and the water table continues to drop. Various rivers are dry or at low levels; some dams and karezes (underground water channels) are also at low levels. A recent survey in northern Zabul has found that 30-40% of the population has left their homes due to lack of water, while another 30-40% may soon leave.

Natural Disasters

In May, Afghanistan received levels of precipitation, particularly in the north, the northeast, and the Central Highlands, which provoked both floods and mudslides.

On 14 May, freak floods in Waras in Bamyan Province affected an area with a radius of approximately ten kilometers around Waras town. The main road between Waras and Panjao was severely damaged by mudslides and was barely passable, cutting Waras off from its main artery connection. Oxfam has found that 60 villages, with an estimated population of 1,000 families, were severely affected by the floods. Of these, about half, 500 families, are cut off from potable water. Nearly all springs providing drinking water in these villages have been destroyed. Villagers collected drinking water from the rivers, enduring risks of contamination and water-borne diseases. 10,000 trees have been destroyed in areas already suffering from deforestation and 10 kilometers of irrigation systems for agriculture have been destroyed, in an area where agriculture is severely affected by drought. 20-50% of agricultural land was destroyed, as well as livestock lost.

In addition, in Hazarajat, both Dai Kundi and Sharistan remain drought affected while also suffering flood damage. Most of the water reservoirs are springs, and these springs are partly dried up or damaged, and there is not enough water even for drinking; some households have to walk 2-3 kilometers to get drinking water. Flooding was also reported in Dai Kundi, where flooding damaged water canals and irrigation systems, as in Waras. Nawor district, in Ghazni Province, also reported that irrigation canals were damaged by rainstorms around 8 May that caused flash floods.

In the northwest, heavy rains in Faryab around the middle of May caused the Maimana River to rise again. This destabilized and eroded the riverbank and threatened businesses and homes. The UN and the local authorities are carrying out an emergency river diversion project. In Shirintagab (Faryab), a hailstorm this month damaged crops, and killed livestock. Up to 100 farmers lost significant proportions of their crops.

Seepage is increasing at Sar-e-Houz Dam in the Maimana Valley. If the dam ruptures, the food security and transport sectors would be seriously disrupted. Immediate repairs would cost several hundred thousand dollars, while rehabilitating the dam would cost about two million dollars.

Torrential rains caused extensive flooding in Yangiareq Village, Khulm District, Samangan Province. The village has an estimated population of 700; almost all families lost food supplies while 300 houses were completely damaged. Food and non-food items, including tents and blankets, were mobilized.

In the northeast, rains have caused flooding and mudslides, destroying houses and crops and closing down roads. On 1 May, a mudslide in Pengani, Rustaq district, Takhar Province, killed three women, twelve children, and fifteen men and demolished houses and fields, with 562 hectares of cultivated land lost and 2,000 cattle. Non-food assistance was provided. In the village of Eilkashan, Rustaq district, 40 houses were destroyed and 30 made uninhabitable due to floods. Rains and mudslides also affected some villages in Argu district of Badakhshan.

Ironically, according to FAO, the northeast has received more precipitation than it has in three decades. Irrigated and rain fed crops are doing well, as is pastureland. Most arable land is therefore being cultivated, although there has been a scarcity of improved seeds.

Earthquake Recovery Update: Nahrin

In Nahrin, Baghlan Province, up to 5,000 families who lost their houses require assistance for rebuilding their shelter. An earthquake-resistant/seismic model for shelter is being introduced in Nahrin, using local materials and labor. The NGO ACTED arranged for two of their technical experts to visit the region to make a technical assessment and to propose/design models that would be suitable. Women will be involved in making bricks in the construction process. The canal that was damaged by the earthquake and had affected access to water of 6,000 families has now been repaired. In addition, reconstruction of over 70 kilometers of critically damaged portions of four main canal systems has restored traditional sources of domestic water to 50 earthquake-affected communities, enabling 6,543 families to have access to water.

INFORMATION TOOLS

Various information tools are becoming available on the AIMS website at www.hic.org.pk. UNHCR's district profiles for northern and central region are currently available, with information on repatriation patterns broken down by province and district. The report, Expected Repatriation Patterns (DACCAR, IRC, MADERA), based on interviews with 59,000 refugee families in Pakistan, is also available. The district vulnerability maps for Afghanistan are also accessible now, which provide information on mines, health, accessibility, and food. Finally, information on Who's Doing What Where has also come online in May. All of the above constitute useful planning and information tools.

COORDINATION AND PLANNING

The National Development Framework (NDF) sets out the broad development priorities and policies of the Afghan Interim Administration (AIA). The process through which priorities identified in the NDF are to be converted into programs has been designed. A programme secretariat is being appointed for each of the 12 programs identified in the NDF. The programme secretariat will support the relevant ministr(ies) in the preparation of the program plan. The programme secretariat will be responsible for convening a Programme Working Group to inform the preparation of the program plan. The Working Group will comprise the senior staff from relevant ministries, implementing agencies (UN and NGO), and interested donors. Eight working groups are up and running: mine action (a sub-sector of security); food aid (a sub-sector of livelihoods): natural resources (which includes agriculture); urban development; health; returnees/refugees/IDPs; education; and culture/media.

After a Regional Capacity Building Mission to Kandahar by UNAMA, UNDP, AACA, and donors, there was a decision to set up a Planning and Implementation Cell within the Governor's office. This will support the assistance community and the authorities in identifying needs, formulating response strategies, implementing projects, and providing mechanism for monitoring/accountability. The objective is to enhance the capacity of the authorities and give them the ability to plan and implement. The PIC would be similar to the AACA at the national level. PICs are now being set up in other areas of the country as well.

The Program Secretariats

  • Refugee return
  • Education and vocational training
  • Health and nutrition
  • Livelihoods and social protection
  • Cultural heritage
  • Media and sport
  • Transport
  • Urban management, water and sanitation
  • Energy, mining and telecommunications
  • Natural resources management
  • Trade and investment
  • Security and rule of law
  • Government capacity building.

ACCESS AND SECURITY

Afghanistan remains a dangerous and volatile country. Some regions are quieter and safer than others, but the potential for violence and lawlessness is high and is present nationwide. The threat of political sabotage against the Loya Jirga process is high. Eight candidates for Afghanistan's Loya Jirga traditional assembly, which will next month select a new transitional government, have been killed in May. It is not clear if the killings were politically motivated. Four of the murders were reported in southern Kandahar province, one in the capital Kabul, and three in the central province of Ghor. None of the men killed had yet been elected to represent their district at the Loya Jirga. However, two had been selected in the first of a two-stage process to elect district representatives. The other six were candidates for the first stage.

In the north, fighting erupted in early May in the areas of Saripul, Shiberghan and Sholgara between forces of the Uzbek Jumbish and Tajik Jamiat. Two commissions were formed to identify the cause of the fighting in Saripul and to resolve the dispute between Generals Dostum and Atta in Mazar. An agreement was reached to conduct a disarmament drive in Mazar, but this has been only partially successful. There were also reports that IDPs were being armed. Fighting also was reported on 6 May around Pul-i-Khumri, in Baghlan Province.

The West remained relatively quiet. On 26 May, the special forces of Ismail Khan intruded into the house of Mr. Haji Rafiq Shahir and arrested him for unknown reasons. Head of the Shura of Professionals and an elected member of the Loya Jirga - Herat City District 5, Mr. Shahir was subsequently released. Mr. Abdul Latif, representative from Adraskan district, was also arrested. There have been sporadic reports of banditry and/or abductions in Farah and Ghor as well as of pockets of Taliban regrouping.

The security situation in the south continued to stabilize although some armed Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements are reportedly regrouping in Paktia, and there are pockets of Taliban around Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan.

In the east, the Shinwari tribe in early May demanded the return of confiscated items after a police anti-narcotics raid on the central bazaar of Mazar. They threatened to block the Torkham-Jalalabad road. Four rockets were aimed at Jalalabad airport on 8 May but landed harmlessly. In Eastern Region and Jalalabad, the situation calmed and the fighting subsided when the Commander of Security resigned and left the country. Coalition military activity continued.

Central region has been relatively quiet, although fighting broke out in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni Province between Hazara factions. Two rockets were launched at Kabul airport in the second week of the month, but failed to explode. There was also information received that Al Qaeda has brought two of its members into Kabul to conduct bombing attacks to destabilize the Loya Jirga process.

Airlifts into Afghanistan have been markedly reduced in April and May. Most urgently needed items have been delivered and most cargo is going overland. During the month it has been determined that the condition of Chagcharan's runway has improved and that Maimana airfield, which has been cleared of mines and rocks, is rough but usable. International commercial flights to Afghanistan resumed in May, when Ariana Airlines inaugurated service between Islamabad and Kabul, and PIA began flights to Kabul as well.

The access road between Turkmenistan and Andkhoy was unusable in early May due to rain, but is now open. Due to fighting/insecurity, the Sherbergan-Sar-i-pul and the Mazar-Dar-e-Suf roads were briefly closed, and UN missions to northern region were suspended on 5 May. Roads also became unusable in parts of the northeast due to flooding and mudslides. Road conditions in Central and Eastern regions are deteriorating rapidly. All roads in central region remained open to traffic, although the roads from Kabul to Gardez and to Ghazni required armed escorts early in the month. The Swiss Development Co-operation Agency (SDC) arrived in Kandahar during the month to assess the Kandahar-Spin Boldak road. This sector includes the Takhteh Pol bridge. As the only major route into Southern Afghanistan from Pakistan, it is expected to be used in the relocation of thousands of returnees in the coming months. Currently the bridge is in an advanced state of disrepair with at least one section being supported by only two of the original four pillars.

FUNDING

Overall funding against the UN consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Afghanistan (ITAP) stands at about 48%. Total resources amount to $851 million against a requirement of $1.76 billion. Worryingly, according to financial tracking information, contributions through the ITAP slowed significantly from mid-April, reaching a virtual standstill in May. Over 77% of funds made available through the ITAP are concentrated in four UN agencies dealing primarily in humanitarian and emergency relief activities. Thirty-two ITAP partners, or 41% of the total number, have received no funding at all through the ITAP. This includes five UN agencies, which are primarily newcomers to emergencies, and which have proposed longer-term recovery and development projects under the ITAP. Despite efforts to link relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities into a coherent, integrated approach, funding patterns would indicate donors' overall preference for relief-oriented activities. Importantly, over half of the 60 NGOs that submitted projects to the ITAP process have received no funding.

In the first week of May, IOM announced serious funding problems and said that it would have to suspend its programme to help IDPs return home unless it received substantial contributions. IOM's costs increased due to larger than expected numbers of returning refugees and IDPs and inflated transport costs. At the end of the month, due to lack of funds, IOM announced that it was also forced to suspend transport for returning refugees. However, IOM's Return of Qualified Afghans program and the Community Improvement Governance Initiative will not be affected.

UNHCR is also concerned that operating funds will soon run out. Of the $271 million UNHCR had requested up to December 2002, only $179 million has been received. Monthly operational costs exceed $20 million. The funds are running low more rapidly than anticipated due to the rapid rate of refugee return. Due to IOM's indefinite suspension of its transport program, UNHCR is introducing a new system of cash grants for returnees, and will provide $5 to $30 per person depending on their destination.

The World Food Programme has been forced to scale down some food aid programmes in Afghanistan because of shortages of cash and food. The agency is about 48 percent under-funded. It faces a shortfall of 254,000 MT of food worth US $138 million. Because of an immediate shortfall of 50,000 MT through June, WFP has had to take measures to scale down distributions, disrupting and suspending school feeding, food-for-work and food-for-asset-creation activities. Unless contributions are confirmed soon, there would be a total break in the pipeline in July, just when millions of Afghans would be struggling with the most difficult pre-harvest time. May and June are considered the leanest periods in terms of domestic food supply in Afghanistan.