Tensions around Maimana remain high and increased robberies were reported. The road from Maimana to Qala-I Naw is reportedly unsafe. The missions on the road should be closely monitored with Herat and Mazar security offices.
The disarmament programme in Faryab Province was suspended during the Eid holidays. Disarmament in Gofsandi and Sar-I Pul provinces is also suspended.
Tensions in Bala Murghab prevail and increased presence of government troops was reported. UNHCR travelled during the week to assess the situation. The population of Bala Murghab requested the Governor of Badghis Province to change the Commander of Brigade V. Subsequently the whole brigade consisting of approximately 1,500 soldiers has been moved to Qala-I Naw. Meanwhile, the troops hired by local warlords and the Governor remains in the region.
This week, two incidents were reported in Bala Murghab when armed men in the region forcefully kept back ALISEI vehicles travelling in the region. At both occurrences the staff and vehicles were later released unharmed. This issue was raised in a special security meeting in Heart on 10th February. Through UNAMA the issue would be addressed to the Governor of Badghis Province, the Governor of Herat and the Central Government in Kabul.
In the SMT meeting on 3rd February, the FSCO pointed out the risks to UN Staff members - working with the Government - while travelling in government vehicles and advised them against the option. It was agreed that the agencies would provide UN transportation and communication for all out-posted staff members.
Reports continue to reaffirm the regrouping of Taliban in Ghor Province - particularly in Taiwara and Passaband - and in the border areas between Passaband and Baghran. Locals have advised that UN missions to these areas should be avoided. UNESCOORD is currently assessing the situation.
UNESCOORD is preparing a national security incident database containing factual information of security occurrences in every region. This database will make ground for quantitative assessment of security situation in Afghanistan.
On 8th February, an explosive device consisting of three mortars and a detonator packed was found 10 metres away from the Karobar bridge, located about 10 km South of Herat. Head of MOPW, who was on the site with IOM engineer, carried the explosive away. No further information about the explosive was received.
On 2nd February, the local authority arrested two individuals carrying TNT explosive with detonators and grenades while driving in their vehicle. The two individuals were caught after the Government had conducted a routine check at a new established checkpoint inside Kandahar Town Centre. Both are still under arrest and are suspected to be involved in the recent attack against the Government and international community.
Fighting broke out in Shah Wali Kot Mountains in Kandahar Province on 4th February. The fighting erupted after the joint Military/Police forces were deployed in the region to locate and disarm possible Taliban supporters. Reportedly 300 Afghan troops are engaged in the fighting at a mountain named Almish. All missions on to Uruzgan through Shah Wali Kot area are suspended until further notice.
On 4th February at approximately 2125 hours, a rocket was fired over the Kandahar city. Witnesses told the authority that they believe it to be an RPG being fired from the South Western part of Kandahar City and landing in the North Eastern part at a dessert area of the town. However, no confirmation was received.
Khogyani, Sherzad, Hisarak and Achun districts remain restricted for UN missions.
The situation in Kunar is relatively calm. The security requirement for armed escorts into the province has been lifted. Limited restrictions apply to UN missions; details are available with the AFSCO Jalalabad.
On 3rd February, a new security consultative committee for Paktia province was formed under the leadership of the acting Governor Mr. Samkani. It was initiated and facilitated by UNAMA and UN security. Regular meetings of the committee would be held twice a month.
The coalition operations that commenced on the 22nd January in the North West region of Khamard appears to have helped stabilise the area by allowing aid supply and reducing localised banditry.
All areas in South East of Qalat - Zabul province - are out of bound for UN missions until further notice; this includes Shinkay, Athgar and Shamulzayi. Due to the recent explosions and attacks, missions on the road from Kandahar to Rambasi in Dand district are restricted until further notice.
Security and accountability for managing the traffic at the Salang Tunnel remains an issue. ACTED has submitted a letter to the relevant Ministries and is expecting a response once everyone returns from EID.
2. CIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS
CHLC awaits approval from CENTCOM for the reconstruction of Bala Murghab bridge in Badghis province.
In Herat, the first session of the Driver Training course coordinated by UNJLC is scheduled for 18th February. The training, previously conducted for UN staff members, will focus on the NGO community and Ministries.
JIC met with MRRD and Coalition forces in Mazar to discuss possible ways of cooperation on road rehabilitation projects. Both parties accepted the chairmanship of MRRD over the issue.
3. AIR OPERATIONS
Due to bad weather, many disruptions in the flight schedules were reported all over the country.
The restoration of the Mazar airstrip, to be carried out by airport authorities, has not yet started.
4. TRANSPORT CORRIDORS
UN and Humanitarian missions require confirmation with the UN security in Herat before travelling on the Herat - Mazar route, which passes through Bala Murghab.
The road from Maimana to Almar-Qaisar is blocked due to snow. The Maimana - Bilchiragh route is reported open, but muddy; the travel time is reportedly six hours. The corridors Sar-I Pul - Charaz and Lela - Targuj were also reported blocked by snow.
Kabul - Kandahar road is now open and armed escort from Shanjoy to Ghazni is not required. Road mission survey was conducted by A-FSCO. The governors of Qalat and Ghazni have installed checkpoints on the road to ensure safety on the road. The corridor from Kabul to Jalalabad remains open.
At the Winter Operational Task Force meeting on Sunday 9th February, ACTED reported that, in order to allow vehicles travelling in either direction to get to their destinations for EID, the Minister of Public Works had decided not to let trucks through the Tunnel. This situation persisted for a day. However, on 10th February, ACTED reached an agreement with the Ministry to return to the unidirectional traffic to avoid a large backlog of trucks and most importantly ensures the safety of drivers already at the Tunnel.
Movement in the North of Kabul City towards Mazar-I Sharif, particularly in the vicinity of the Salang tunnel and the Hajikak Pass, has been reported as being extremely precarious due to heavy snowfalls; delays should be expected. Agencies are reminded to contact ACTED (2201266 or 92 (0)70 282 539) for information on the direction of travel through the tunnel.
The road between Maidan Shar and Kabul has experienced increased levels of banditry. The AFSCO CR, and UNAMA representatives are addressing the matter with the Governor of the region.
Avalanches have continued throughout the week at the Salang Tunnel. On Saturday 8th February, a truck fell over at the North end of the tunnel delaying traffic for about one hour. Furthermore, ice has been reported on the Southern side of the tunnel.
Hajikak Pass was open all of last week, but closed again on 7th February due to a snowfall of 40 cm. It is expected to open after EID. Ounay and Molla Yakub passes remain open.
The Korak and Spizarak passes remain blocked for vehicles coming from Nilli and Korga villages. Over three metres of snow has reportedly accumulated in this district. These areas are in the Central Highlands close to Dai Kundi. A total of 290 labourers were employed to clear snow in three days i.e. 6th - 8th February.
5. TRANSPORT SECTOR
Misapprehension between GTZ and the transport company was resolved during the meeting of the concerned parties, UNJLC and the Department of Transport in Herat on Thursday, 6th February. After the issue was resolved, UNJLC issued an advisory to all agencies to ensure transporters' signatures on the agreements, clearly stipulating the kind of services requested and the rates for specific locations as per umbrella agreement.
During the week, the average price of Diesel in Afghanistan between USD 0.24 (Mazar) and USD 0.28 (Kabul). The average price per litre of Petrol ranged between USD 0.28 (Mazar) and USD 0.30 (Kabul). The average exchange rate in Afghanistan, during the same period, was between AFG 46.05 (Kabul) and AFG 46.36 (Mazar) per USD 1.
During the week, prices of Diesel in the North and North East Areas of Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.24 (Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.32 (Faizabad). The Petrol prices in these areas ranged between USD 0.28 (Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.33 (Faizabad). The average Exchange rate ranged between AFG 46 per USD 1 in Faizabad, Kunduz, Taloqan, Maimana and AFG 47 in Pul-I Khumri.
In Qala-I Naw, SFD claimed the need of an additional warehouse for its projects. At present, SFD shares its warehouse with other agencies. SFD has requested these agencies to share the rent of the additionally required warehouse. UNJLC would visit the newly rented warehouse on Sunday, 16th February to assess the situation. Subsequently, a meeting will be held between the concerned agencies to solve the issue.
8. TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
UNAMA is currently in the process of assessing the project for the construction of Qala-I Naw bridge.
The Uzbek National Road Reconstruction Company "UZAVTOYOL" has completed rehabilitation of two bridges on the Salang road. According to the arrangement between Uzbek and Afghan Government, the Company will refurbish ten bridges in total on this route. Both parties expect that the rehabilitation of the bridges will be completed by November 2003. Uzbekistan also participated in rehabilitation of Shebergan - Andkhoy road. This and other projects were discussed at the meeting between Uzbek Consular and UNJLC Mazar this week.
Repair work continues on the 41 km stretch from Baghlan to Nahrin.
On 10th February, three Kamaz trucks with snow blades left Kabul for Bamyan. They would be handed over to Solidarites. Additionally, two Kamaz trucks with snow blades departed from Kabul for Lal Sur Jangal, for use by the MRRD/UNOPS/UNJLC snow teams in the region. This equipment will assist the clearance activities at such key passes as Hajikak, Shatu and Sadberg.
According to Head of Ministry of Return and Reintegration, several villages in Sar-I Pul require winter support; 1,600 families in Sayyad District, 380 families in Sayed Abaad District and 350 families in Sar-I Pul centre. It is not clear if these families are the displaced or returnees. Furthermore, level and type of need - short or long term - is unclear. The Zust Oust Asia (ZOA) and MRR will follow up on this issue with the assistance of MRRD.
The WFP food delivery from Maimana to Teylan has been completed. WFP still has to deliver two-month food ration - approximately one hundred MT - from Maimana to Laulash village in Kohistan district, Faryab Province. Since the road is blocked by snow, WFP will deliver the ration by animals i.e. horses and donkeys.
As of the 10th February, 31,000 MT, or 65 percent of the planned food commodities, were distributed to targeted beneficiaries. In the North, distributions have been completed in Balkh and Sar-I Pul provinces and are ongoing in Faryab. Logistical difficulties have so far impeded the distributions in Samangan province. Distributions have also been completed in Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces, where almost 797,900 beneficiaries received 4,454, MT of food since the start of the winterisation project. In the Central Highlands more than 50 percent of the food dispatched has so far been distributed. Distributions will continue during February 2003 by implementing partners in accordance with agreed plans.
WFP, UNAMA, FAO, Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), Focus, MRRD and Ministry of Agriculture representatives and the adviser from the French Embassy in Kabul, through a helicopter mission, monitored distributions in Ragh, Darwaz and Khahan districts in Badakhshan province. No major problems were observed.
The coal distributions in districts of Nawur and Ajiristan in Ghazni were successful without any significant problems. However, the distributions in East and West Sharistan have been reportedly difficult.
Habitat, ATLAS, and the local authority supported 840 vulnerable families with 210 MT of coal (250kg per family). The distribution commenced on 2nd February and concluded on 6th February. Habitat together with Jalalabad Municipality is now selecting beneficiaries for the UNICEF distribution of clothing.
In Jawzjan Province, MRRD and ACTED distributed 25 stoves, 6.25 MT of coal and 40 quilts to the Ministry of Public Health hospital in Acha. In Takhar, UNHCR has completed distribution of 1,370 winter packages out of the planned 2,000. Assessments are ongoing to identify the remaining beneficiaries. In Kunduz, UNHCR has to date distributed winter kits to 3,934 families of the expected 4,000.
ACTED distributed blankets, stoves and coal for 9,500 families in Nahrin and Burka. Under the same project funded by ECHO, a total of 1,950 MT of coal has been delivered from the Nahrin coal mine to 2,052 beneficiaries in Nahrin district and 1,206 in Burka district.
On 4th and 5th February, UNJLC organized a two-day joint UNJLC/IOM/MRRD mission to Sortepa district where flood affected the four villages - Hariqbator Village, Jangal Ariq Village, Joy Wakil village, Bazaroq village - near the river. The aim was to collect and evaluate information on authentic needs in the area. More than 236 houses have reportedly been destroyed. The community suggested the construction of a dam for permanent solution of the problem. The villagers are willing to participate in any reconstruction project contributing labor and machinery (tractors). This issue of assessment and possible reinforcement of the riverbank will be addressed to the Bengali NGO named BRAC.
Due to the instability in the region, many NGOs are reducing activities in the South. MERCY CORPS is evacuating international staff and suspending all field operations. However, the office will remain open for operational purposes and will monitor situation from Kabul.
OXFAM and ACF have suspended all their activities in Zabul province due to security situation. The international staff was evacuated to Kabul until the security situation improves. With this suspension of most NGO operations in the region, the situation for most of the UN agencies in the region is getting ambiguous, as most of the NGOs are working as implementing partners with the UN agencies.
In the HoA meeting in Kabul, the Belgian government offered UNJLC the opportunity to use a cargo aircraft in Afghanistan. All the agencies have expressed interest and some have already submitted the list of items to be transported. At present, the operating procedures and the requirements for transportation are being determined.
The first internally displayed Afghans to return home this year from Maslakh IDP camp in Heart left for Badghis province this week. Each family received an IOM reintegration package, comprising a tent, a kerosene lantern, soap, biscuits, 100 kg of wheat and USD 6.6 (AFA 300) for any necessary onward transport.
FAO is reportedly funding two projects to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in Afghanistan targeted on the Kuchis. The aim is to assist the survival of their nucleus breeding flocks during the period of winter and early spring in a way to maintain their livestock production system, rebuild the strength of their livestock and assure continued livelihood for the Kuchis.
In Kandahar, the representatives from the Department of Education of Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand, Nimroz and Urozgan provinces, as well as representatives from UN Agencies and NGOs met to discuss issues related to educational activities in the South of the country. The IDP Operation Steering Group composed of UNHCR, WFP, MSF, IOM, ADA and VARA also met to discuss the 2003 assistance strategy for IDPs in the Panjwai camp.
UAN: +92 51 111 222 323
UNJLC Chief: +92 51 285 5853
Project Management: 2068
Information Management: 2110
Fax: +92 51 285 4942