On 17th January, a vehicle with false de-mining (MDC) logos and markings was found to be carrying 50 kg of narcotics. Furthermore, a man was shot down and another detained by the security forces when the vehicle drove through the check point at Khinjan in Baghlan province, north of the Salang Tunnel. Subsequently, the local agreement invalidating search of NGO and UN vehicles will be revised.
The situation in Bala Murghab has stabilised with no further reports of fighting. However, travel to the area is still suspended. During the previous week, three murders were reported in Herat. Subsequently, the authorities are clamping down on unregistered vehicles in the city and have already confiscated 450 vehicles until formal registration is established.
An explosion in Balkh district, resulting in death of two individuals was reported on 12th January.
A Mercy Corps team working in Garmab and Chinar villages, some 20 km South East of Trin Kot, was fired on by a group of ten armed men on 18th January. No serious injuries were reported, although, the vehicle received 15 bullet shots. UN missions to Trin Kot have been temporarily suspended.
On 16th January, a bomb explosion was reported in the Lowala quarter of Kandahar city, 2 km north of Governor House. The explosive was reported as a remote controlled device which detonated when an Afghan military vehicle passed nearby. No casualties, except minor damages to the vehicle, were reported.
Last week two mines reportedly exploded in Khogyani district of Nangahar province. One explosion occurred near the village of Kasha, in front of a Relief International vehicle. No damage to the vehicle or the occupants was reported. On 15th January, three mines reportedly detonated on the main road in Paten Tari, located about 40 km from Jalalabad, when a convoy of six vehicles of Coalition Special Forces was on its way to Jalalabad. The Coalition forces cordoned off the areas and called for a helicopter to assist with the damaged vehicle and casualties. Detailed information about the casualties has not been released.
Coalition forces have advised the suspension of missions to the Gul Kalasha area, 10 km north of Kandahar city. The situation in Nimroz remains calm with no security incident reported. Uruzgan remains tense and the operations by Coalition forces continue. Missions to the region must be monitored by the RFSO office before departure.
2. CIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS
As mentioned in previous Bulletins, Coalition Forces held meetings with Heads of UN Agencies and NGOs to discuss the implementation of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The PRTs have been the subject of recent media attention. NGOs held their ground regarding the need to distinguish between humanitarian assistance and military activities.
The Coalition intends to play an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. To assist Coalition's involvement, UNJLC organised a meeting with CIMOC in Mazar. The plans of CIMOC focus on reformation of schools, clinics, water supply systems and roads. The possible approach of cooperation amongst Military, UN Agencies and NGOs is still under discussion. Nevertheless, MRRD will be the main body to coordinate all rehabilitation efforts.
3. AIR OPERATIONS
UN personnel have again been informed that they can travel on Paktec/AirServ flights, subject to the usual security clearance procedures.
The airport authorities have suspended reconstruction of the Mazar airstrip due to lack of capital. WFP would reportedly be responsible for repair of the flying control tower. The controllers reportedly have all necessary equipment required for the repair.
4. TRANSPORT CORRIDORS
All major mountain passes in the Central Highlands were open earlier in the week except for Hajikak Pass on Bamyan - Behsud corridor, which was closed due to ice and snow accumulation on the southern side. ACTED reported that the Salang Tunnel was closed on 18th January, as a dump truck had fallen down on a bridge in Tajikan area and had blocked the road. It took ACTED staff 12 hours to re-open the tunnel.
The main road from Yakawlang to Bamyan was blocked on January 18th and 19th due to heavy snow and drifts over Khaminil Plateau. The total snow accumulation is reportedly 80 cm. It is expected to be cleared by Solidarites in the coming days.
A number of trucks have experienced problems traversing the Sabzak Pass, on the way from Karukh to Qala-I Naw, as it is reportedly hindered by 30 cm of snow. Senan Construction departed Herat on Sunday 19th January to take up position on the pass. Clearance is scheduled to begin on 20th January. UNJLC and UNOPS plan to visit the pass on Thursday 23rd January to verify that work is underway according to the previous plans.
5. TRANSPORT SECTOR
WFP and UNJLC met with Haji Abdul Baqi, Head of the General Transport Committee of the West, in order to inform him of WFP's plan to issue new requests for quotations from the transport companies in Herat. UNJC and WFP further requested a formal list of registered transport companies in the West and clear details on the extent and capacity of their fleets.
UNJLC held discussions with representatives of one transport company who, after signing the recent transport rate agreement, refused to transport goods at anything other than above the agreed ceiling rate. UNJLC and the contracting agency held talks with Haji Abdul Baqi on 20th January in order to express their deep concern over this apparent breach of the recently signed agreement.
In Quetta, UNHCR will manage the fleet of 9 Mitsubishi trucks through its Implementing Partner Global Movement for Children and Women. These trucks can be utilized by the NGOs for transportation purposes.
During the reporting period, the average price per litre of Diesel in Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.28 (Mazar) and USD 0.31 (Herat), whereas, the average price of Petrol ranged between USD 0.28 (Mazar and Kandahar) and 0.35 (Herat). The exchange rate in Afghanistan during the week was between AFG 46 (Mazar and Kandahar) and AFG 46.29 (Herat) per USD 1.
The price of Diesel in the North and North East Areas of Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.28 (Maimana) and USD 0.35 (Faizabad). The price of Petrol in these areas ranged between USD 0.30 (Maimana) and USD 0.37 (Faizabad). The average Exchange rates during the week ranged between AFG 46 (Maimana, Faizabad and Kunduz) and AFG 47 (Taloqan) per USD 1.
No new developments were reported during the week.
8. TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
No recent developments reported.
This week UNJLC focused its attention on the resolution of specific issues in the West and Central Highlands in order to ensure complete implementation of the winter snow clearing plan. It appears CAWC will be responsible for the Eastern side of the Shibar Pass in Bamyan province as part of a Food for Work project with WFP. Funding for supplementary costs of shovels and wheelbarrows is subject to submission of the CAWC proposal. Also, authorisation from MRRD Kabul has been requested to use the MRRD equipment available in Herat to support the snow clearance efforts.
SFL has now established bases in Farsi, Tulak, and Khairon in Western Ghor from where they will carry out snow clearance activities. Purchase of equipment for labourers is underway and reporting of progress will be submitted twice a week as of Wednesday 22nd January. Under the terms of their funding, SFL are limited to purely snow clearance activities and cannot carry out road maintenance work in periods of little or no snowfall.
UNJLC and UNOPS plan to travel to Qadis on Thursday 23rd January. They will visit the clearance works at Sabzak Pass along the way, and liaise with the Governor and Deputy Governor of Qala-e Naw before continuing to Qadis on Friday 24th January. After the visit, a UNOPS engineer will remain in Qadis in order to finalise the training of MRRD staff who will manage the project. DACAAR has re-confirmed its willingness to allow snow clearance personnel and machinery to be stationed in its compound in Qadis for the full duration of the project.
UNJLC Herat has received translated copies of high detail Soviet military maps covering the routes included in the snow clearance project in the West.
At the Winter Operational Task Force meeting, in Kabul, UNAMA reported that the temperatures were falling rapidly in Farah province and that kerosene was required urgently. Shelter for Life would be contacted to arrange for immediate distribution. IOM offered blankets as a complementary measure.
During the Winter Operational Task Force meeting, in Kandahar, the participants agreed to reduce the distribution of Kerosene from 90 litres per family to 60 litres per family due to the lack of fuel in the region.
WFP, based on the VAM findings, identified some 1.3 million vulnerable people living in rural areas that potentially will become inaccessible during winter. Some 70,000 MT of food would be required for the identified areas. As indicated in the Winter Task Force plan, WFP, within its regular programme, would position some 45,000 MT of food. ICRC, under its regular programme distributed some 25,000 MT of food. As of 19th January 2003, more than 24,000 MT - 51 % of planned food commodities - had been distributed to the beneficiaries. The distribution of food commodities to beneficiaries will continue during January and February 2003 in accordance with distribution plans prepared by the WFP Area Offices and implementing partners.
In addition to the regular monitoring carried out by WFP Area Offices, WFP has prepared a plan to monitor - using the UN helicopter - food distributions as well as the situation of areas included in the winter plan (i.e. inaccessible areas). The Government of Afghanistan, IPs and other UN agencies are invited to join these missions. On 14th January, WFP, UNAMA and MRRD, monitored villages in Central Highlands.
MRRD, WFP, UNAMA and AKDN undertook a mission to the Pamirs area in Wakhan district to assess the present situation and review possibilities for transporting assistance to Pamir-I Khurd and Pamir-I Kalan villages. The most urgent needs for the villages, as expressed by the representatives, are food and clothing as well as establishing road connection from Brogail border to Pamir-I Khurd and from Gaz Khan to Pamir-I Kalan.
CRS recently received a supply of food and non-food items from Peshawar. From the received stock, 900 tents, 2,450 blankets, 1,000 shawls, 500 children jackets and 2.18 MT of food were distributed in Panjway and Dand districts. In Kandahar, 250 tents, 3,600 blankets, 1,800 stoves, 162,000 litres of kerosene and 3,100 plastic sheets were distributed.
Anatolian Development Foundation has donated some 17,000 winter jackets to UNHCR Quetta. A total of 3,100 jackets would be distributed at Latif Abad camp and the remaining 13,900 would be distributed at the Waiting Area, soon after the distribution at the Latif Abad camp. The beneficiary population includes children, between ages of 0 to 15 years.
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