Afghanistan

Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 349

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Posted
Originally published
Funding
The Swedish Government has pledged more than ten million dollars for the humanitarian aid programme for Afghanistan for the year 2000. Approximately four million will be used for continued funding of UN programmes, including mine action, (MAPA), the Comprehensive Disabled Afghans Programme, (CDAP), FAO, UNICEF's Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) and UNOCHA's co-ordination and flight operations.

More than eight of the ten million dollars pledged are in support of programmes within the Consolidated Appeal for Afghanistan.

The total Swedish humanitarian aid for Afghanistan in 1999 was US$ 11.9 million.

Of the amount pledged, US$ 4.3 million will go to the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) for 2000. In the year 2001, Sweden will contribute US$ 4 million for SCA's work.

SCA activities are mainly in health, education, and emergency preparedness. Within education, SCA supports 580 primary schools with 180,000 students, of whom 20 % are girls. Within health, there are 200 clinics in Afghanistan supported by SCA.

New UNSMA Head Arrives

Francesc Vendrell, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General and new Head of UNSMA, arrived on 3 February in Islamabad. After meetings here, he proceeded to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries on a fact finding visit.

Mission

A mission from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) is due in Islamabad on 19 February. In its two-week stay in the region, the mission will travel to Peshawar, Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. It will meet with UN, NGO, and ICRC officials and local authorities and review various projects in different regions.

Food Aid/Food Security

In WFP's emergency food distribution in southern Afghanistan, 35 women and 23 men have been appointed to help identify and register the most vulnerable families in Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul Provinces. In Kandahar City, registration has been carried out in districts one through five and is ongoing in district six. Registration outside Kandahar City remains ongoing.

Health

Repatriation of Health Workers

Since July 1999, ten health workers, of whom nine are female, have been repatriated from refugee life in Pakistan to various locations in Afghanistan and to jobs at health clinics supported by Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA). Of the ten newly repatriated, seven are medical doctors, while three are advanced mid-level health workers. They now work in Kapisa, Kabul, Laghman, Takhar, Wardak, Logar, and Ghazni Provinces.

The Relocation of Afghan Professionals Project started in July. It aims to get medical professionals back to work in Afghanistan. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) provides a hardship allowance to these professionals for one year, as well as funding for refresher training. SCA identifies the medical professionals. The project is due to continue for a year. Altogether, some twenty medical professionals are budgeted to be repatriated to Afghanistan.

Disease outbreak

According to the World Health Organisation, the measles outbreak in Darra Souf of Samangan province has affected 1,500 people with 100 deaths. The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have sent medical supplies and medical personnel into the area. The team will treat the acute respiratory infections (ARI) that are complications of the disease, and will provide Vitamin A to enhance immune response and decrease complications and fatalities.

A joint WHO, PEMT (Provincial Immunisation Management Team), and the NGO Ibn Sina visited Jaghori district of Ghazni Province to monitor EPI services and to investigate the measles outbreak. After visits to 28 villages, the team found 167 cases of measles and five deaths. The team provided the people necessary medicine and health education.

MSF and CHA have reported from Ghorian district of Herat and from Zindajan district respectively fifty-five and nine cases of measles. A measles outbreak in Farah province is still under investigation. WHO also sent medical supplies with the NGO FOCUS, which went to investigate reports of a measles outbreak in remote Darwaz District of Badakhshan province.

Co-ordination in the Health Sector

Monthly Health Co-ordination Committee Meetings, chaired by WHO, were organised in all regions. The participants discussed the health situation in their regions, updating the district health profiles, training of vaccinators and other EPI staff, preparations for the control of the outbreak of winter diseases, and control of the morbidity rate due to acute respiratory infections (ARI).

In addition, WHO organised a meeting with the Ghazni mother-child health (MCH) co-ordination team to select trainers for 50 traditional birth attendants in Gardez and Sayed Karam districts of Paktia province.

Medical supplies

WHO distributed medical supplies to Rashidan MCH clinic, Ander District Hospital and Khawgani BHC clinic in Ghazni province, to Baghlan Jadid MoPH clinic, Farah Provincial Hospital, Herat Regional and Herat District Hospitals and Herat Maternity Ward. In addition, WHO provided malaria drugs to the Kunduz Malaria Centre and TB drugs to Bust Provincial Hospital, Faizabad Hospital and Jurm, Darwaz, Argo, and Khash clinics.

Training

WHO and/or UNICEF conducted training for 20 persons on EPI in Kandahar City, Herat, and Islamabad. WHO also conducted a four-day workshop for cluster representatives and the village development committee for the Basic Development Needs team in Karokh district of Herat province, and a refresher training course for 10 TBAs (Traditional Birth Attendants and VHVs (Village Health Volunteers in Enjil district.

Water/Sanitation

The Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) has completed a water supply project in Kajaki district of Helmand Province, with funding from DANIDA.

The forty-five wells dug will benefit 938 families, while the baths and latrines will benefit 150 families. The community participated in site selection, and provided unskilled labour and some materials. The pumps provided in the project will be maintained by mechanics initially trained by DACAAR but now paid by the community.

Community Fora

Habitat Kandahar continued to support and assess the needs of communities through its established community fora.

Community support activities in health and education in all nine community fora (six for men and three for women) in Kandahar city were ongoing. During the week, 160 patients (90 women, 55 children, and 15 men) were treated and received medicine in the health clinic of the community forum in districts 3 and 4 supported by WHO, UNICEF, and MoPH.

In the girl's primary schools in women's community forums of districts 2 and 6, the number of students is increasing. So far, there are 100 girls taught by four female teachers in these two schools.

Agriculture

FAO Livestock

This week, 130 farmers have provided 6,414-litres of milk to BALCO, which was sold to consumers after processing in Kandahar City.

The milk-marketing project is part of FAO Afghanistan's Livestock Production Programme. Three milk collection points and a processing centre have been established where fresh milk is brought to the city for distribution. Milk is collected from the farmers every morning, and payments are made weekly based on the quantity of milk supplied. Contributing farmers benefit both from the regular income and from help with inputs and advice. Any milk that remains unsold is processed into butter and yoghurt, which are sold.

In the beginning of the project, about 500 litres of milk per day (3,500 litres per week) was collected. This has now risen to over 6,000 litres per week.

FAO Crops

In addition to all ongoing programmes, this week FAO sent four different types of bean seeds from Ghazni to Jalalabad to conduct research trials.

In addition to testing new varieties of wheat (described in late week's Update), FAO also tests rice, maize, barley, and legumes.

Legumes hold special importance in food deficit areas where malnutrition is common among the poorest. So far, this project has screened germplasm of beans, chickpeas, and lentils. The four top yielding bean strain tests had yields that were between 41% and 75% higher than local beans. The strains of lentils and chickpeas tested have given yields between 14% and 52% higher than local varieties.

The implications of these results for food security in Afghanistan are obvious.

Narcotics

UNDCP has published "Opium and other problem drug use in a group of Afghan refugee women." This is the second in UNDCP's four part Community Drug Profiles for Afghanistan, which are intended to provide assessments of specific drug problems and at-risk groups within Afghan communities. The profiles are undertaken by UNDCP's Drug Demand Reduction Project.

The data for this report was collected from New Akora Refugee Camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. Among other interesting findings in the report is that the majority of women who use drugs are polydrug users who rely on a combination of both opium and pharmaceuticals such as tranquillisers.

The report is available from UNDCP Afghanistan.

Mine Action

The Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan's December report is now available. The largest mine action programme in the world, MAPA works with thirteen implementing partners in mine survey, clearance and awareness.

According to the December report, MAPA has exceed its targets for surveying both mined and battlefield areas in 1999. In mine clearance, it has almost met its annual target for clearing mined areas and has exceeded its target for battlefield clearance.

Mine incidents involving de-mining staff were the lowest since 1991, when the programme was much smaller.

Since its inception, MAPA has cleared over 200,000 square metres of mine contaminated area of Afghanistan. Over 330,000 square metres of high priority area remain.

The major donors in 1999 were the US, the European Community, Sweden and Germany, each of whom pledged more than two million dollars towards the total 1999 budget of USD 25.6 million.

Human Rights

In response to queries concerning the outcome of the investigation into killings in Mazar (1997 and 1998), a letter of the UN Secretary General to the General Assembly (November, 1999) summarises the work of the investigation team and its outcome. The investigation did not result in any new evidence or reach a definitive conclusion in terms of what happened and who was responsible. The investigation concluded that while "killings of civilians had taken place and there had been serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights" it was unable to reach definitive conclusions concerning, for example, which party was responsible for particular events. In its conclusion, the report notes that little information was forthcoming from the parties to the conflict, that other information was "patchy," and that neither party extended meaningful co-operation. The Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) has no plans to pursue this matter further.

The text of the letter of the Secretary General to the General Assembly will be available on the website of the Afghanistan assistance community: www.pcpafg.org. The document will be in the news section, under "Afghan News," in the sub-category of UN HQ Afghanistan.

Afghanistan at the United Nations

United Nations headquarters in New York reports that Afghanistan has paid its UN dues for the year 2000, amounting to $110,000.

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