Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 305

Situation Report
Originally published
APB Meeting
The second meeting of the Afghanistan Programming Body (APB) was convened on Friday, 5 March. Approximately fifty representatives of donors, UN agencies and NGOs participated. The meeting reviewed issues regarding the return of UN international staff to Afghanistan, the Next Steps forward and practical steps to implement principled common programming, among other issues.


The principal humanitarian activity by the UN in Afghanistan this week was joint support to those affected by the earthquake in Wardak and Logar Provinces. Following on from relief efforts by the Red Cross Movement in the area, UN agencies and NGOs have continued to meet emergency needs in Sayedabad (Wardak) and all districts of Logar Province. Contributions to the relief effort have come in from a wide range of sources.

A joint commission comprising representatives from central and local authorities has been convened to facilitate this process. Damage to homes has been widespread in the two affected provinces and efforts are still under way to reach some of the more remote settlements, some of which remain cut off by snow. Of the estimated 16,000 families in need as a result of the earthquake, some 14,500 families have been provided with non-food and food items to date.

A group of Kabul-based agencies is working on a shelter rehabilitation programme for the affected area, which will focus on training and limited material inputs to enable families to re-build safer homes.

International Women's Day

International Women's Day was observed all over the world on 8 March.

On this day, the UN Secretary-General drew attention to a key issue: violence against women. In his message, the Secretary-General said violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we can not claim to be making real progress toward equality, development and peace.

WFP Stocks

New wheat stocks of 30,000 tonnes are expected to arrive in Pakistan at the end of March. Meanwhile a shipment of approximately 400 tonnes of pulses is expected near the end of April, while 126 tonnes of sugar is being purchased locally in Pakistan. Fourteen tonnes of edible oil are being transferred to Kabul from Herat, where stocks are adequate.

Assistance Update

Central Region

Work is under way to prepare for the proposed 1999 National Health Planning workshop, to be held in Kabul by the Ministry of Public Health, with support from WHO and UNICEF, among others. The meeting, which will take place from 13th March, will involve health professionals from throughout the country.

A seminar, organized by the Afghan Campaign to Ban Landmines, to mark the ratification of the international campaign, was held on 1 March with representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and aid agencies present.

WFP VAM national staffs are assessing six affected districts, of which four have been completed. The VAM team is trying to get an overview of the food security situation after the earthquake to assist agencies to make the most rational use of resources in the medium term. Four WFP teams are participating in the operation in various areas in collaboration with UN agencies, NGOs and local authorities.

Eastern Region

In an effort to improve care for reproductive health, WHO has conducted a one-week training workshop on safe motherhood. The workshop, which was attended by 25 female health workers, was held at the University hospital. The agency has also distributed medical supplies to some health facilities in the region.

Northern Region

On their return from Afghanistan, two WHO medical experts said a mysterious disease, which has claimed dozens of lives in a remote mountainous area of northern Afghanistan is an "influenza-like" acute respiratory infection. The high death toll has been caused by secondary bacterial infections, which have been made more serious by poor hygiene and nutrition and a lack of antibiotics. Previously reports covering two of the most populous clusters of villages spoke of 196 deaths. The overall number of deaths cannot be determined, as reports are not available from other places.

WHO sent a shipment of drugs helpful in respiratory ailments.

WHO will maintain contact with three local Afghan authorities and NGOs concerning further measures to treat patients and to contain the outbreak, as more information becomes available from the results of laboratory tests.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance has started its distribution of 739 MT of wheat, contributed by the WFP, in six remote districts on northeast Badakhshan.

In WFP's winter emergency operation in Faizabad Province, 30,000 beneficiaries have been identified. The impasse between local elders and WFP on the numbers of needy has been resolved. The other phase of the emergency operation, implemented in collaboration with the NGO Focus in outlying districts of Badakhshan Province, is expected to start at the end of March. The assistance will target 44,000 of the neediest members of the population with a one-time distribution of 740 tonnes of wheat.

Southern Region

A total of 16 refugee families from Baluchistan returned to their home areas in the Southern Region. All families received UNHCR standard repatriation assistance packages.

FAO Crops conducted Integrated Protection and Production (IPP) pome fruits and vegetable management training courses in Kandahar and Paktia (Khost) for 48 district trainers.

WHO provided essential drugs for measles out beak in Urozgan Province and sent an immunization team there to monitor the situation and to vaccinate children. The office trained 128 vaccinators, volunteers and supervisors.

FAO Livestock distributed 50,000 doses of Enterotoxemia vaccine to Daman and Arghanadab Veterinary Field Units.

After verification of the number of families affected by flooding in Helmand Province, WFP Kandahar completed distribution of 10 tonnes of food aid for 94 families on 28 February. Further assessment of other areas is underway.

Western Region

UNCHS Herat continued to carry out work on the city main drainage project, road gravelling and the construction of public latrines.

A mission was fielded to Jebrail village of Enjil District last week. The mission monitored and interviewed 100 new returnees families. Interviews revealed that they were refugees in Khorasan Province of Iran and after a 10 to 20 years stay in Iran, finally repatriated to Herat Province. Most of the returnees are non-Heratis and temporarily settled in Herat Province. Many are originally from central provinces of Afghanistan.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit