Tensions remain high in Maimana, to the West of Mazar, where a new military brigade is reported to have been formed. Localized transgression continues unabated.
On 21st January, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at the entrance of Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN) building in Pul-I Khumri. The IED was found to be a can filled with gunpowder. No casualties were reported. This is the second attack on AKDN in last four months. Investigations are underway.
Fighting has resumed in Bala Murghab. The authority of Governor Ismail Khan, is being challenged by the local Governor of Badghis province. The local Governor is sighting President's edict that warlords can be Governors or Military Commanders, but not both. He claims that Ismail Khan has no jurisdiction over Badghis province. It is reported that Ismail Khan is sending more troops to the region and it is most likely that hostilities would continue. UN and humanitarian missions require confirmation with the UN security in Herat before travelling on the Herat -Mazar route, which passes through Bala Murghab.
No further fighting has been reported in Shindand this week. However, missions to Purchman in Farah province and Taiwara in Ghor province remain suspended.
On 21st January, at around 1140 hours, an explosion occurred in Zara Dash IDP camp when two children, of ages five and six, were playing with a grenade fuse. The children suffered from slight injuries and were taken to Mirwais hospital for treatment.
The campaign to eradicate poppy crops continued in the Eastern Area. During the last week, the assigned anti-narcotics forces conducted operation in South of Nangahar province. Continuing resistance from the poppy farmers of Nangahar community has made the situation tense in some areas, especially Khogyani and Shinwaru districts. Missions to Khogyani district remain suspended. Further restrictions have been placed on missions to districts of Sherzad and Hisarak. Although missions to Kunar and Nuristan have resumed, escorts are required.
The Afghan media reports of increased burglary and armed robberies in Kabul. The local Kabul radio has issued a warning to the population, advising them to be vigilant against possible IED devices. Four BM1 rockets were found by the local authorities in Shina district, north of Kabul. The rocket reportedly targeted the Bagram airbase. No arrests have been reported.
The Minister of Interiors has directed that, being the prime cause of traffic congestion in the city, all bollards placed in front of properties in Kabul are to be removed. ISAF and American Embassy will retain the force protection measures, while, the UN is conducting negotiations with the Government over the issue.
The authorities in Gardez have reportedly seized a substantial cache of weapons. No arrests have been reported although investigations are underway.
Following the request of FSCO, the Ministry of Interiors has established four fixed police check points and regular day-night patrols on the main supply route between Ghazni and Kabul.
The situation in Central Highlands is reported tense, especially in Khamard and Daikundi. Factional fighting has been ongoing in the areas and situation is potentially volatile. Last week, Coalition forces conducted operations (in support of the Transitional Government) against the forces of a Provincial Governor in Northern Uruzgan province. The Coalition presence in Western Sharistan threatens to destabilize an already fragile political balance in the region.
On 26th January, a vehicle belonging to government check post has been blown up in Mian Ko area of Arghandab district. The devices have not been identified. One person died on spot and another was severely injured. On 27th January, an undisclosed explosive device exploded on a water tank at Kotal Murcha. A vehicle belonging to RONCO, a de-mining NGO, was blown up. No casualties were reported.
2. CIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS
A proposal by CHLC for the reconstruction of Bala Murghab bridge in Badghis Province has been forwarded to CENTCOM for consideration and possible approval.
In Mazar, UNAMA has recently disseminated the "UNAMA Draft Guidelines" on Civil Military Relations. According to the draft, communication with military forces should go through the area coordinator office. All contacts are considered to be official and should be channeled through the Government.
3. AIR OPERATIONS
During the coming weeks, WFP will be conducting food monitoring missions by helicopter to Badakhshan and Ghor provinces. UNJLC staff would participate in these missions to assess the snow clearing efforts and activities.
Due to snowfall and low ceiling clouds, internal flights and those in and out of the country were disrupted during the week.
4. TRANSPORT CORRIDORS
On Sunday 26th January, Kabul and the surrounding areas received its first significant snowfall this winter, although, snow did not accumulate in Kabul due to subsequent mild temperatures. However, the Salang Tunnel received over one metre of snow at the Southern and 60cms at the Northern entrance. Additionally, three avalanches on the Southern side of the Tunnel in Paridagi region were reported. For safety reasons and due to the necessary snow clearances activities the Tunnel was closed on 26th and 27th January.
The Salang traffic schedule has been changed due to current weather conditions and presence of local commanders. The Salang will be open from 0600 to 1600 hours daily. The tunnel is open for vehicles from South to North (i.e. from Kabul) on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and for traffic from North to South on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
On 21st January heavy snowfall was reported in Ghor and throughout the Central Highlands. Teams extending from Tulak to Yakawlang are operating at full capacity to ensure safe passage of vehicles. Four monitored passes of Hajikak, Shibar, Shatu and Farsi in Central Highlands are closed. It is expected that all routes will be open by the end of week and alternative routes will be determined except towards the West.
The route from Bandshoi to Panjao through Mullah Yaqub pass is open. The Chagcharan -Lal Wa Sarjangal route received less snowfall, nevertheless, drifting snow and strong winds has caused problems along the corridor. UNJLC and UNOPS carried out a mission to assess the road. Travel on the route is possible on 4x4 vehicles.
The Malang - Ghorak and Dand - Panjwai corridors in Kandahar province are reportedly in bad condition due to the recent heavy rains. The travelling time has been doubled and it is recommended to use only 4X4 trucks and vehicles.
In the North, routes in Sar-I Pul and Samangan were reported closed during the week. An assessment is being done to determine whether snow-clearing activities are required.
In the North East, the route from Taloqan to Ishkashim, through Faizabad, is open. However, Northern Badakhshan is snow covered and routes are reported inaccessible.
5. TRANSPORT SECTOR
UNJLC and WFP are still waiting to receive formal notification of those transport companies registered with the authorities in Herat along with details of their fleet composition. UNJLC will again approach the Department of Transport to request this information in the coming week.
This week the average price of Diesel in Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.26 (Kandahar) and USD 0.31 (Herat and Kabul). The average price per litre of Petrol ranged between USD 0.30 (Mazar) and USD 0.35 (Herat). The average exchange rate in Afghanistan during the week was between AFG 45.5 (Kabul) and AFG 46.32 (Kandahar) per USD 1.
During the reporting period, prices of Diesel in the North and North East Areas of Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.26 (Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.30 (Maimana and Faizabad). The Petrol prices in these areas ranged between USD 0.26 (Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.35 (Maimana). The week's average Exchange rate in Faizabad, Kunduz, Pul-I Khumri, Taloqan and Maimana was AFG 46 per USD 1.
UNJLC travelled to Qala-e Naw and met with the Deputy Governor of Badghis Province concerning the city's Government warehouse currently being utilised by a number of NGOs. Clarification of a previous agreement between the humanitarian community and the Governor of Badghis was reached. Under this agreement the humanitarian community was, in return for the restoration of the warehouse, granted free use of the facility until 26th January 2003. UNJLC is currently in the process of facilitating an agreed level of rent for the warehouse between the Government of Badghis and the humanitarian community.
8. TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
UNJLC visited the site of the proposed Qala-e Naw bridge. UNJLC has provided UNAMA with a rationale for the funding of the project and UNAMA is now in the process of assessing the project.
This week 15 snow blades for the Kamaz trucks arrived in Kabul from Moscow. The installation process has been hampered due to missing parts and limited tools. However, six trucks have blades mounted on while one truck is complete and ready to be used as the sample to expedite subsequent installations. The Kamaz trucks would be dispatched to the respective areas for snow clearance later this week.
In general, this winter's snowfall has been lighter than expected. Since the approach to addressing the accessibility issues during the winter has been changed, from the repair of roads to intensified snow clearance, the overall winter funding requirements for this sector have been revised. Engineered and surfaced roads should be built in spring and substantial funding for this would be required. UNJLC is consolidating the information on priority routes and conditions to assess the funding shortage.
WFP has dispatched all planned food commodities. As of 26th January, nearly 25,500 MT -- 53 % of planned food commodities - had been distributed to the beneficiaries. A total of 59 % of the 4,454 MT of food dispatched to inaccessible areas in Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman and Nangahar Provinces has been distributed. Furthermore, WFP was unable to undertake monitoring missions to Kunar and Nuristan provinces due to security restrictions.
WFP released 76.6 MT of wheat on 24th and 26th January 2003, which will be milled by FOCUS. The wheat flour will be transported as soon as possible for distribution to 383 families in Pamir villages. WFP, together with Implementing Partners, is exploring options for implementation of Food-for-Work projects in Wakhan district (road and bridge rehabilitation). Moreover, FOCUS has distributed 270 MT of food in Sheghnan district. It is still facing problems to move the food from the Tajik side of the border to the Afghan side.
UNJLC carried out a joint five day mission with UNOPS to the snow and mud affected areas of Badghis. Monitoring of the operations at Sabzak Pass was carried out where snow clearance has made the traversing of the pass possible even without snow chains. Further activities and improvements were suggested to the implementing partner and the draining and filling of the major potholes is now underway in conjunction with further snow clearance.
The mission to Badghis established a base at the DACAAR compound in Qadis from where one UNOPS engineer and one representative of MRRD will oversee clearance activities. Three main critical points were identified from Qala-e Naw to Regi and contracts with the adjacent villages were negotiated. Under these contracts, clearance of severe areas of mud will be carried out near Abaksh village, at Kak Polak Pass, and between Ghazistan and Regi villages. Prior works along the road combined with continued activity in certain areas by SFL ensure that full scale clearance of the entire route is unnecessary; however, additional capacity is retained in Qadis in order to quickly react to a change in the situation.
Clearance of the route between Shindand and Shahrak in Ghor Province is underway. SFL currently have 405 labourers employed to clear the Nakhoti, Kashker, and Charkhana Passes. Consequently the route is clear for traffic.
Madera anticipates Hajikak pass to re-open by 1st February. Teams are currently working on this area. All Madera activities at the three passes, including Onay and Mullah Yaqub, will be in progress by 1st February. Sabzak Pass in Badghis remained open during the past week.
INTERSOS distributed 5,417 pairs of shoes and socks to children between the ages 5 to 10 years of Zara Dash IDP camp in Kandahar province. Also 15,223 quilts were distributed at the scale of three quilts per family. Additional three quilts were distributed to families with more than eight members. UNHCR Kandahar completed distribution of winter items in Uruzgan to 2,500 families. UNHCR provided quilts and stoves while UNICEF, Islamic International Relief Organisation and JTS donated clothing.
As reported last week by MRRD, Darzab and Khoshtepa districts of Jawzjan Province were identified as extremely vulnerable to winter. GOAL carried out an initial fact finding mission in the area and reported that there were approximately 800 Kuchi families in the region, of whom approximately 300 were identified as extremely vulnerable needing tents and food.
Upon the request of the Governor of Badakhshan and the people of Pamir, an inter-agency team of UNAMA, Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), WFP and MRRD staff travelled to the Pamir in Wakhan district to assess winter needs. The team met with the leaders in Broghail, last town on the road towards Pamirs. Based on the information gathered it was recommended that food and winter clothes should be distributed to 250 Kyrgyz families. WFP will supply 50 MT of wheat while UNICEF will provide clothes and UNIMIX, the nutritional supplement. Central Asian Bank Development Agency informed that it has clothes available but funds are needed to transport them from Dushanbe to the Pamir. The Ministry and UNAMA will request AKDN to transport and distribute the assistance. The team also recommended that in the long term a road should be built and health coverage be secured.
On 21st January UNJLC received information about flood in Sortepa district of Balkh province and organized a two days joint UNJLC/WFP mission to the area, located at the bank of Amu River. According to the information received floods destroy this area every year but mainly in March. The flood started last month and targeted four villages. As of 23rd January, about 236 houses have been destroyed. All destroyed houses where located at the edge of the river bank wall. A mission report has been submitted to UNAMA Area Coordinator.
On 22nd January, WFP organized a joint one-day mission to the village of Laulash, Kohistan, Faryab province to study the situation resulted from food distribution. Five months food ration has reportedly been delivered to Maimana. At present, three-month ration has been delivered to the area for almost 1,700 beneficiaries. The last convoy was received from Maimana on 28th November. Since then the road is blocked due to snow. The Governor has indicated that 60 km segment from Maimana to Teylan is in good condition and some storage facilities are available.
Habitat will distribute kerosene and jerry cans to urban beneficiaries in Farah. The initial figure of 584 families has been increased to 820. Shelter for Life has given indications that it could provide additional kerosene to this increased target.
A team of Afghan Ministry of Health, UN and NGO health experts has successfully concluded a mission to North East to prevent the spread of whooping cough outbreak. The disease first broke out in late October in the North of Badakhshan province. The outbreak is now under control, with at least half of 40,000 targeted children already having received a preventive course of antibiotics.
The MRRD celebrated the graduation of 27 provincial MRRD staff from a training session on project monitoring and evaluation, food security assessment, and English and computer skills. This training was conducted as part of government capacity building programme to which WFP had seconded one national programme officer, one VAM officer, one English teacher and one staff assistant. Other WFP support to this programme included necessary equipment and financial support.
The Government opened the Department of Women's Affairs in Nangahar province. At the inauguration ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs requested UN agencies and NGOs to extend collaboration and assistance to the Department.
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