Afghanistan

Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 343

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Originally published
The General Assembly
The General Assembly of the United Nations has called upon all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to immediately cease all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage in a political dialogue under United Nations auspices aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict by creating a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.

In particular, it urged the Taliban and other Afghan parties to refrain from all acts of violence against civilians, including women and children. It strongly condemned the sharp escalation of the conflict in 1999 and the fact that foreign military support to the Afghan parties had continued unabated through 1999.

The General Assembly noted the recent lifting of the blockade in central Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Food Security

WFP's house-to-house survey in Jalalabad, through which bakery beneficiaries will be selected, is scheduled to begin this week. The survey was previously postponed as local authorities banned the participation of female surveyors, indispensable in order to interview women. WFP has now obtained permission for female workers to conduct the survey.

Health

The United Nations Security Council has approved a humanitarian flight to transport medicine to Afghanistan for Doctors without Borders.

UN Security Council Resolution 1267 calls on the Taliban to expel Osama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice. Until they do so, the resolution prohibits flights by Ariana Afghan Airlines and freezes Taliban bank accounts and other financial assets. The resolution does not prohibit humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI)

A joint WHO, UNICEF, and REMT meeting was held in Mazar-i-Sharif for preparing an EPI annual plan. According to the plan, all districts in the area have been divided into three categories: those that run an intensive programme including fixed centres, outreach and mobile teams; those that run fixed centres and an outreach programme; and those that run a programme only through fixed centres. The plan stresses refresher training and expansion of AFP surveillance and its integration into EPI in all districts.

Tuberculosis

WHO organised a meeting of all regional tuberculosis managers on the control of tuberculosis in Northern Afghanistan. WHO established two new tuberculosis centres in Samangan and Sheberghan Public Hospitals and distributed lab reagents and tuberculosis drugs.

WHO successfully completed a training course on tuberculosis control in Mazar-i-Sharif, which was attended by doctors, nurses, and lab technicians from Samangan and Jawzjan provinces.

Training

For compiling a health profile and health data according to the new HIS (Health In-formation System) formats, WHO donated computers, printers, and other related equipment to the MoPH Planning Department and the Primary Health Care Department.

WHO distributed new formats in a four-day training workshop on the implementation of the new Health Information System jointly organised by WHO, MoPH, UNICEF, SCA, AMI, and IBNESINA in Logar province for male and female doctors, nurses and health workers last week.

Medical supplies

WHO distributed medical/surgical and lab supplies to various health facilities and hospitals in central region. WHO distributed medical/surgical supplies to Uruzgon District Hospital. The WHO office in Faizabad distributed anti-tuberculosis drugs and x-ray supplies to Faizabad Hospital and anti-malaria drugs to Baharak health centres. WHO distributed anti-tuberculosis drugs to Garmser Tuberculosis Control Centre in Helmand province, MCH supplies to Adag MCH clinic and medical supplies to UNCHS supported clinics in Kandahar.

Education

About 240 Afghan women staff of NGOs recently completed an eight month training course run by the Afghan NGO Coordinating Bureau (ANCB) in Peshawar. Funded through UNOCHA, the courses included accounting, management, secretarial and computer training.

Water/Sanitation

DACAAR has completed a water supply and environmental sanitation project in Awband, Ghazni Province. The fifty-one wells and hand pumps will provide clean water to 1,400 families, while 138 baths and latrines will benefit 138 families. The community participated in the work and will now pay for the maintenance of the pumps via mechanics trained by DACAAR.

Disability

In honour of the International Day of the Disabled, the NGO AABRAR held bicycle and wheelchair races for disabled Afghans on 5 December in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. 128 disabled cyclists participated, including children as young as seven years old, from twelve provinces of Afghanistan and from refugee camps in Pakistan.

UNICEF and ICRC sponsored prizes, with first prize being a Chinese bicycle, second a sewing machine and third a wall clock. The longest race was twenty-five kilometres and the shortest five kilometres. In all, eighteen participants won prizes during the races, which thousands of spectators enjoyed.

Agriculture

Crops: Hazarajat

Food security in Hazarajat has been eroded by the continuing civil war and became critical by autumn 1997. A wheat deficit area, the region relies on imports of cereals from other parts of the country, financed by the sale of livestock and potatoes.

FAO is working towards improving food security in the area using locally produced improved wheat seed. In 1997, FAO distributed 1.4 metric tonnes of improved seed on credit to 78 farmers in Yakawlang, a more accessible area of Hazarajat. The seed multiplication programme has now moved into more remote areas such as Uruzgon and Ghor. Using WFP food grain to pay farmers for contributing their improved seed, FAO has redistributed the seed in order to produce more improved seed in the next harvest.

Recently, FAO distributed improved wheat seed and fertiliser among almost 3,000 farmers in six districts of Hazarajat. The potential yield of improved seed from this crop in the year 2000 is 3,200 metric tonnes. By planting in autumn rather than spring, farmers can avoid crop loss caused by spring droughts.

Since farmers are aware of the high yields, the improved seed is in great demand. The programme represents a significant step in alleviating local food shortages.

A New Afghan Magazine

Tadbeer, meaning Thoughtfulness, is the name of a new quarterly magazine from Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. It is published in mixed Dari and Pashto. The magazine is open to anyone who feels that he or she has an interesting story or useful experience to share.

The first volume includes reports, articles about SCA's history since 1980, a gender study, school reports, a medical article, poems, short stories and other articles. From the next volume, the magazine will mainly consist of articles about activities inside Afghanistan.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.