Afghanistan

Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 345

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Originally published
Afghanistan Support Group
On 9 December 1999, at the meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group (ASG) in Ot6tawa, Switzerland accepted the chair of the ASG from Canada. The ASG is a group of countries which work together to provide international support for Afghanistan. The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) will be responsible for the leadership of the ASG.

The ASG was founded by the sixteen largest donor countries to Afghanistan as a complement to the efforts of the UN. Switzerland joined the ASG in 1998. Today, ASG members channel most of the aid from individual countries to Afghanistan. The Group works intensively with various UN organisations as well as with multilateral aid organisations active in Afghanistan.

Rustaq Earthquake

On 31 December 1999 at 09:45, four earth-quakes struck Rustaq and surrounding districts in northern Afghanistan. Six villages in Rustaq district of Takhar province were affected. There were no casualties, and assessment shows that damages have been relatively limited.

Approximately 300 houses and 150 stables have been either damaged or destroyed in six villages. Since springs in two areas were affected, lack of water supply is a problem. In addition, in the village of Sar-e-Joy, the quake widened a crack on the top of a hill, which has increased the threat of landslides for the villagers.

Displaced Persons

Panjshir/Gulbohar

Recent hostilities in the area of Gulbohar are likely to affect the return of displaced families to their homes in the area, or efforts at reconstruction of war-related damage. In the light of continued reports of ci-vilian movements in and out of the area south of the frontline, discussions have been held with the authorities in Kabul this week, with a view to obtaining a more for-mal general agreement for the resettlement of families displaced to Kabul. In the meantime, efforts are under way to system-atically establish from community representatives the extent of damage to homes and agricultural infrastructure in this area, as the basis for planning future rehabilita-tion programmes for returning rural com-munities.

Discussions are also under way regarding the resumption of cross-line convoys, to transport food and non-food supplies from Kabul to the Panjshir valley and areas north of the frontline.

A summary of non-food items dis-tributed to date to displaced families in Panjshir/Gulbohar has been compiled. When consolidated with existing records of non-food stocks in Kabul and the estimated pipeline, it is hoped that this exercise might facilitate planning of future responses to needs of the IDPs in the area, and ensure that priority needs can be met in a timely manner.

Kabul

Efforts continue to identify and assist vul-nerable IDP families from within the dis-placed community within the city, as part of an ongoing (ECHO-funded) initiative being implemented by GAA and MEDAIR. The aim is to assist some 4,000 vulnerable families through the provision of employ-ment (in labour-intensive public works pro-grammes) and about 440 families (female or disabled-headed) through support for home-based production.

UNCHS Habitat has also embarked on a programme of relief distributions to some 2,500 vulnerable and displaced families in the city, implemented through estab-lished community forums.

In the ex-Soviet Embassy, a range of assistance continues to be provided to the inhabitants of the compound, who now number almost 3,000 families. Those who have recently entered the compound are reportedly families who had initially settled with relatives, who now find it impossible to support them in their homes. This re-displacement within the city is a process that had been anticipated by agencies, and highlights the importance of reaching the most vulnerable families living outside of the Embassy compound, as soon as possible.

In order to meet the immediate needs of the "new arrivals" in the com-pound, an additional 700 packages of non-food relief were made available from the UN/NGO pool, and distributed in the com-pound during the week.

In response to the growing com-pound population, CARE report that addi-tional latrines will need to be built, if sufficient resources can be found.

Educational activities for the chil-dren living on the compound, implemented by Save the Children (US) are ongoing, with up to 20 classes taking place daily.

Health

Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI)

WHO reports a marked increase in the inci-dence of acute respiratory infections (ARI) throughout the country, with some 30% of outpatients reportedly suffering from respi-ratory ailments. Twenty five percent of all deaths of children under five years old are due to ARI.

In collaboration with the MoPH, WHO has conducted three three-day ARI training courses for female and male doc-tors in Rabia Balkhi and Miwand hospitals in Kabul City respectively. 65 medical doctors and mid-level health personnel have been trained. WHO also successfully completed ARI training for 35 medical doctors and nurses in Balkh, Samangan, Jowzjan, and Saripul provinces and for 30 doctors and health workers from Kunduz and Baghlan. They will conduct training courses for community health workers on prevention, control, proper treatment, and management of ARI cases.

WHO/WFP Collaborate

In Ghazni, WHO and WFP discussed joint WHO/WFP projects in year 2000. WFP will collaborate with tuberculosis, SMI ( Safe Motherhood Initiative) and BDN (Ba-sic Development Needs) programmes in southeastern region.

In Faizabad, WHO and WFP dis-cussed the continuation of food aid for 770 TB patients. WFP in 1999 prepared sup-plementary food aid such as wheat, edible oil, sugar, rice and beans to WHO supported TB centres in Faizabad, Baharak and Jurm

Education

'The Afghan Publishing House of the BBC Afghan Education Project, with UNESCO's financial support, has recently published another illustrated

storybook for Afghan children. "The Treasure," a famous

Afghan folk tale, conveys the vital message that 'hard work reaps many benefits'.

The story is popular among Afghan communities all over Afghanistan. Pub-lished in both Dari and Pashto, the book can be obtained from BBC Afghan Education Projects in Peshawar.

Agriculture

FAO provided training in backyard poultry keeping in Dand district of Kandahar province. In addition, FAO sponsored a training course for 54 veterinarians in ani-mal health and production improvement in Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, and Khost regions. Routine animal health and produc-tion activities in 255 districts inside Afghanistan continued.

Returnees

UNHCR support for shelter for returnee families continues, with 910 families bene-fiting in Kabul and Logar provinces, where construction work is about 80% complete. UNHCR has also extended support to AREA for a rehabilitation project in Kabul, and to IRC to undertake primary education. There are plans to resume support for a re-volving fund project for returnees.

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