Afghanistan: UNJLC Bulletin 09/2003

Situation Report
Originally published
UNJLC bulletins aim to provide a concise overview of the logistical situation within Afghanistan on a weekly basis. While in depth analysis of particular agency operations is outside the scope of these reports, it is hoped that readers receive a valuable overview of those logistical issues affecting the humanitarian community as a whole.
  • Tensions in Mazar-I Sharif have reportedly increased due to inter-factional conflicts in the region. On 21st February, a small arms fire was reported near the UN guesthouse in Mazar. After investigations it was found to be a robbery attempt in the neighbourhood. No injuries were reported; the robbers fled the scene.

  • On 20th February, a security field trip was conducted by the ARFSCO to assess the increased tensions reported in Faizabad. Furthermore, the Gofsandi issue remains unsolved; suspension of all missions to the region prevails until further notice.

  • Farah and the surrounding areas remain relatively calm with exception of some isolated robberies reported in the region. The Governor of Farah continues to support UN missions with assurance of safety and security of agencies operating in the province.

  • On 16th February, a convoy of about 100 vehicles was blocked from passing the Arghistan River due to heavy rains. A person working in the area detonated a mine by stepping on it. The casualty was later taken to Mirwais hospital for further treatment.

  • The districts in the South East of Qalat in Zabul Province are currently suspended for UN missions until further notice. This includes Shinkay, Athgar and Shamulzayi. Road movement from Kandahar to Rambasi in Dand district is also suspended due to a recent explosion and attack on civilian and military vehicles. Reportedly, a truck and a minibus collided whereupon 16 casualties occurred.

  • Resolution of the issue of security, interference and management of traffic along the Salang Tunnel is pending as per a letter submitted to MRRD by ACTED. For the past several weeks ACTED, which is responsible for clearance and management of the Salang Tunnel during the winter months, has had problems with harassment of its workers by local commanders. This affects ACTED's daily operations and overall supervision of this crucial route.

  • Within the reporting period, the situation in Jalalabad was reported relatively calm; however incidents involving the Coalition forces and poppy eradication campaign in Kunar Province continued.

  • All roads in the Central Area, particularly in Logar and Wardak Provinces experienced an increase in road banditry after dark. All agencies are strictly recommended to avoid road movement after sunset.

  • The situation remains unstable in Maimana. The disarmament process in the region is currently on hold due to the absence of General Dostum.

  • On 18th February, an explosive device was reportedly thrown in the IOM compound located in the South of Kunduz city. An hour later another explosion occurred in the town centre with close proximity to the Bank and Headquarters of the 6th Army Corps causing minor damage. No casualties were reported in either incident. Local authorities are investigating.

  • The overall security situation in the West remained relatively quiet during the past week with no major incidents reported. UN missions to Bala Murghab and Ghormach are being cleared case by case. In Badghis Province, in light of tensions and possible banditry on road, missions have been advised to remain vigilant and ensure MOSS compliance during travel.

  • During the SMT meeting in Kabul, the DFSCO reported that UN markings and flags are necessary for UN vehicles operating in Afghanistan.
  • In Kunduz, Capt. Pat Pascall has assumed responsibilities as the head of CHLC-CMOC.

  • During the week, UNJLC North East met with the head of Provisional Reconstruction Team (PRT) who explained the present plan and future approach of the team in the North East. The PRT plans to move towards the East and position from Baghlan to Badakhshan. Furthermore, PRT would reportedly concentrate on short-term projects such as school and clinic construction. UNJLC will share the matrix of priority works and advise on positioning the teams to avoid possible duplication or conflict with the other agencies.

  • In Kunduz, the MRRD office has been rehabilitated by CHLC.
  • Due to the weather conditions, fog and poor visibility many disruptions in the flight schedules - both internal and external - were reported.

  • UNJLC North East has been requested by UNAMA to participate in the UNICEF assessment - done jointly with NGOs and UN agencies - by the MI8 UNHAS helicopter to Darwaz. Together with an MRRD Engineer, UNJLC would assess the airstrip in Shukhai in the coming weeks.

  • CHLC will repair the third crater at the Kunduz airport. No future plan for further rehabilitation of this airfield was handed over. The rehabilitation of the Mazar airstrip has not yet started.
  • The Hajikak Pass reportedly remains closed with a snow accumulation of 40 cm. The Molla Yaqub Pass was also reported blocked; however, the roads from the pass to Kabul through Onay are reportedly open. Snow chains are highly recommended along the route.

  • The Shibar and Aqrabat Passes are now open, but vehicles must be equipped with suitable snow chains. The Bamyan - Yakawlang stretch was reported opened as of Wednesday, 19th February. The secondary road, from Shibar to Yakawlang through the Pasroya valley remains closed.

  • The Nili- Daikondi and Jawz - Nilli stretches are reportedly blocked. Moreover the mountain passes Chapalak, Bande Kosa, Barlan, Spezarak, Korak and Eastern part of Qunag were also reported blocked. Except Korak, all stretches and passes would be cleared by Friday, 28th February.

  • The Shatu Pass is open from Yakawlang to the top of the Pass and is closed from the top of the Pass to the Panjab side. Also the Sad Berg Pass is open from Yakawlang to the top of the Pass and closed from the top of the Pass to the Panjab side.

  • The stretch from Asgharat Pass to Lal is reportedly open, whereas, the stretch from Panjao to Asgharat Pass is inaccessible due to large avalanches. It is therefore almost impossible to reach Lal from the East. Despite UNOPS/MRRD daily workers who are trying to improve the pass, the route from Lal to Chagcharan is reported closed. The Lal to Dai Kundi supplementary passes also reported blocked.

  • The road from Shindand to Shahrak in Ghor Province is reported open with a daily snow accumulation of approx 120 mm; however, none of the snow is covering the road. Mud is minimal, resulting in the road being relatively clear and passable. Culverts and drainage systems, plus gravel at the critical spots, are currently under construction.

  • Due to last week's snowfalls, the total snow layer thickness in the Sabzak pass is approximately 800 mm; snow precipitations were reported during the past week. Meanwhile, the snow is melting during daytime and freezing at night creating serious constraints along the route.

  • The road from Sabzak to Qala-I Naw is open. No snow was reported on the road; however, mud is a serious constriction due to heavy rains. The stretches from Qala-I Naw to Balai Murghab and Ghormach are open but muddy. From Qala-I Naw to Qadis and further to Jawand warm spring weather was reported. The road, which is open and passable, is dry without mud or snow.

  • The main road from Kunduz to Pul-I Khumri is reportedly damaged and needs reconstruction. The 88 km long main road from Ragh to Faizabad is seriously damaged and the pass is blocked by snow.

  • On the main road in Karakaram of Badakhshan Province, the water flow has reportedly washed off the soil and drained the road, thus making it a mudflow. UNJLC met with MoPW in Faizabad to discuss the maintenance of the road.

  • The primary road from Taloqan to Ishkashim is reported open.
  • No new developments to report.
  • During the week, the average price of Diesel in Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.23 (Mazar) and USD 0.29 (Kabul). The average price per litre of Petrol ranged between USD 0.29 (Mazar) and USD 0.35 (Kabul). Moreover, the average exchange rate during the same period was between AFG 47.33 (Kabul) and AFG 51.57 (Mazar) per USD 1.

  • The prices of Diesel in the North and North East Areas of Afghanistan ranged between USD 0.24 (Kunduz and Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.29 (Faizabad). The Petrol prices in these areas ranged between USD 0.27 (Pul-I Khumri) and USD 0.35 (Faizabad). The week's average exchange rate ranged between AFG 52 (Faizabad, Taloqan and Maimana) and AFG 53 (Kunduz and Pul-I Khumri).

  • During the reporting period, the average fuel price of Diesel in Pakistan (Peshawar) was USD 0.40, while the average price of Petrol was USD 0.60. The average exchange rate in Pakistan was reportedly 57.95 Rupees per USD 1.
  • Due to expansion of operations, SFD requires additional storage capacity in Qala-I Naw. The present SDF-owned warehouse is utilised by other agencies - World Vision, GTZ, IOM and ALISEI. Consequently, SDF has requested the concerned agencies to share the cost of this new storage facility. The rent of the additionally required warehouse is USD 220.

  • On 19th February, a UNJLC team visited Qala-I Naw to negotiate - with the concerned agencies - the agreement for rent of the SFD-required warehouse. The agencies are willing to share the cost; however, discussions are underway. Once the issue of division of the rent is resolved, a new agreement will be signed between the Governor of Badghis and UNAMA on behalf of the Humanitarian Community.
  • As announced before, UNJLC is planning to hold a series of River Engineering workshops for Afghan engineers as part of the follow up to the courses that were held in November - December 2002. These courses will be held in Dari and conducted by Afghan engineers.

  • UNJLC would begin with two workshops in Kabul - one for students from the Engineering faculty at Kabul University and the second for qualified engineers from Ministries, NGO's, and UN agencies. The first workshop will be held from 3rd to 5th March at the UNJLC Conference room. The latter will be held from 8th to 10th March at the same venue. Certificates will be provided to those who attend for the full duration of the course. Also, the River Engineering manual will be available in both English and Dari versions (The Pushto version is currently being translated and will be disseminated towards the end of March). A schedule of the courses in other locations within Afghanistan will shortly be provided as well. These locations will most likely be Herat, Mazar, Faizabad and Bamyan (Bamyan is not confirmed but there is a possibility).

  • Upon request from UNAMA - to clarify the issue of reconstruction of the Qala-I Naw bridge included in the Government Master Plan 2003 - UNJLC held a meeting with the Deputy Governor of Badghis Province, Head of MoPW and Head of MRRD in Qala-I Naw on 19th February. However, no confirmation was received, as there were no consultations held with the authorities in the region. The GPS Coordinates of the site were taken which are available with UNJLC Herat and Islamabad. The issue would further be addressed to the authorities in Kabul.

  • During the meeting, the Deputy Governor of Badghis also mentioned a second bridge in Qala-I Naw that he considers as priority. This bridge would connect the Northern and Southern sides of the city. Along with the construction of the bridge, the reinforcing of the riverbank is also required, as the river is washing off the banks and creating difficulties in the region.

  • In view of spring planning and priority setting for the upcoming year, UNJLC is consolidating a Road Rehabilitation Matrix for every Area. Once completed this matrix would be available on the UNJLC website and with the respective field offices.

  • MRRD engineers plan to assess Kohan, Darwaz and Shignon districts in terms of access and road works. UNJLC will coordinate with the different NGOs working in the region to assist the MRRD personnel. A clear picture of these districts would be available in the coming weeks.

  • UNJLC discussed the construction of two bridges in Kalafgan with representatives of MRRD and IOM. Concern Taloqan has also showed interest in the bridges. In the coming weeks UNJLC will meet with the agency to discuss the issue.

  • The repair of the main stretch to Faizabad remains a priority, especially in the district of Kalafgan, where the path through the river and the bridges is still a major bottleneck.

  • In Mazar, UNJLC met with NGOs concerned with road rehabilitation projects. During the meeting the following issues were discussed: potential flood areas and their current condition; corridors and roads that are blocked due to flood or landslide in spring; UNOPS road projects and the present situation in Sortepa.
  • The Salang Tunnel re-opened on Friday, 21st February. As previously reported the 2.6 km tunnel had been blocked by heavy snow for over a week - the longest closure this year. To avoid traffic jams in the tunnel, traffic movement for all vehicles from South to North (i.e. from Kabul) continues on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; from North to South (i.e. towards Kabul) on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Due to the changing weather conditions and ACTED's difficulty in enforcing a fixed programme - due to the preferences and authority of local commanders - the above schedule has been, and is likely, to be subject to change.

  • WFP conducted a mission to Maimana to solve the issue regarding delivery of 93 MT of food to Laulash village of Kohistan district in Faryab Province. The mission passed the message to the villagers that WFP has arranged the rate of 7 AFG per donkey for a trip. The delivery was delayed due to bad weather and snowfall. WFP estimated that the distribution would be completed in a couple of weeks. One WFP truck is reportedly stuck in Teylan.

  • As of the 26th of February, 35,100 MT, or 73 percent of the planned food commodities, were distributed to beneficiaries. WFP food distributions by implementing partners will continue in accordance with agreed plans.
  • UNOPS has received an amount of USD 250,000 for road rehabilitation projects in five provinces of Northern Area - USD 50,000 allocated for each province. After assessments Balkh and Jawzjan Provinces were selected for project implementation in the first stage. Other three provinces will be identified later in the second stage.

  • For reconstruction in the first stage, seventeen roads - eight roads in Balkh and nine in Jawzjan - have been identified. The criterion of Level 1 stipulates primary work such as gravelling and building culverts. This is a two-month Cash for Work programme that would start weather permitting and anticipates direct cooperation between UNOPS and local community.

  • In Faizabad, almost 6,600 beneficiaries received 76 MT of wheat through a FoodAC project in Badakhshan Province. This project, which is now complete, contributed to the rehabilitation of 13 km of road and 3 km of canal and created employment opportunities for almost 3,700 persons. In the same province, 720 beneficiaries received 7 MT of wheat through a FFW project for the rehabilitation and construction of canals. In Mazar-I Sharif, over 1,600 beneficiaries received 14 MT of wheat through a FFW project for the rehabilitation of irrigation systems in Balkh province. In addition, 413 MT of commodities were distributed to almost 49,600 beneficiaries through two FoodAC projects in Samangan and Jawzjan provinces.
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