Afghanistan

Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 351

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Pledges and Contributions
The government of Canada has pledged US$4,151,183 to support mine action, community development, aircraft operations, education, human rights and widow's feeding programmes in Afghanistan.

Bombing in Panjshir

The Secretary-General deplores the indiscriminate bombing in the Panjshir Valley, on 14 February. These bombings resulted in the death of 8 persons, and have impeded UN efforts to get assistance to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the area. One of the bombs fell 200 meters from the UN office in the Bazarak/ Changaram, while others fell nearby.

The Secretary-General is also concerned that civilians are still being deliberately targeted in different frontlines. He appeals to all parties involved to respect the rights of non-combatants to be treated as civilians as well as their right to receive humanitarian assistance. He reiterates his call on all parties to cooperate with the United Nations in the provision of relief assistance for affected populations.

SIDA Mission to Afghanistan

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) fielded a 12-day mission to Kandahar, Kabul and Jalalabad on 19 February. The mission is currently visiting mine action, disabled and education support programmes, FAO crops and livestock projects, and health services.

Education

The Rural Rehabilitation Department (RRD) has approved the employment of female teachers, supervisors and monitors in UNICEF-supported home-schools in Laghman and Kunar. Based on a Memorandum of Understanding, signed between RRD eastern region and UNICEF, 290 schools are being supported by the agency.

Nearly 40 primary schools are initiated and supported by the Comprehensive Disabled Afghan Programme (CDAP), PEACE partners and rural communities in Kandahar and Farah provinces.

UNCHS and Community Fora are also supporting eight schools in Kandahar city. They provide books and stationery for over 770 girls and boys in these schools.

Health

Over 15 children have died in the new measles epidemic in Farkhar and Kalafgan districts of Takhar Province. Measles have also been found in other locations of Takhar. Two health teams from Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) have vaccinated over 1,000 children in Kalafgan so far.

Another outbreak of the disease in Samangan Province has also been reported.

Return of Qualified Afghan Nationals

Under an IOM-initiated pilot project, nine female and one male Afghan medical professionals have been relocated to work in the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA)-supported health clinics in Afghanistan. IOM provides assistance for relocation and training to a total of 25 Afghan medical professionals, primarily women.

Ten returnees have been employed to work for clinics in rural areas in Takhar, Kapisa, Laghman, Kabul, Wardak, Logar and Ghazni provinces. The process of recruiting another ten health workers under the same project is underway.

Meetings

Health issues, e.g. management and prevention of seasonal diseases, measles and Acute Respiratory Diseases, were discussed in a Health Coordination Meeting at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar last week.

Following meetings with various agencies and NGOs, WHO Mazar con-ducted a workshop for all regional public health directors and provincial representatives in the health sector to prepare a comprehensive Action Plan for 2000.

Missions

A UNICEF mission visited Farah province from 6 to 8 February. The objectives of the mission were to explain the new country programme to counterparts in the UNICEF focused provinces in 2000, and to assess the situation of the provincial hospital with a view to initiate Emergency Obstetric Care (EOC) and other MCH services.

WHO visited Helmand province and supervised EPI training in addition to other health activities.

A WHO/UNICEF joint team visited Balkh, Dawlatabad and Charbulak districts and supervised anti-TB training, EPI routine activities, ARI and measles cases, and water and sanitation projects in the area.

WHO visited health facilities in Ghazni and monitored the ongoing nutrition programme for malnourished children, and lactating and pregnant women.

Medical supplies

WHO distributed drugs and other medical and surgical supplies to Tirinkot Provincial Hospital, Malaria Reference Centres in Kandahar, Ghazni, Paktika, Fariyab and Kunduz provinces.

Training

The UNICEF-supported three-month training of midwives (from Logar province) is ongoing in the Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul. All trained midwives will work in the SMI programme in Logar.

WHO conducted a refresher-training course on immunization for 23 EPI health workers in Kandahar and a workshop on Safe Motherhood Initiative for female doctors, midwives and Traditional Birth attendants (TBAs) in Fariyab, Balkh and Helmand.

World Health Day Art Competition

World Health Day (WHD) will be celebrated all over the world on 7th April 2000. In order to encourage children to develop their talents through sending drawings/paintings, WHO has announced an art competition, titled: Safe blood starts with me, and blood saves life. (The theme of WHD 2000 is "Blood Safety".)

The deadline for receiving entries is 15 March. Prizes and certificates of merit will be granted to the winners.

Water and Sanitation

Social Mobilizers of the Rural Rehabilitation Department (RRD) provided health/ hygiene education to 100 families in Bagrami District of Kabul. A piped water supply scheme was completed in the district last week.

Work continues on the UNICEF-supported piped water supply project in Maidan of Wardak province. The project will benefit 4,000 people in the area.

Agriculture

A joint FAO/UNHCR mission returned to Kandahar after surveying 500 returnee farmers in Garmsir District of Helmand Province for wheat seed and fertilizer distribution.

Under poultry backyard programmes, over 1,000 chickens have been vaccinated against the Newcastle disease in Dand District, Kandahar.

64,000 doses of various vaccines have been distributed to Veterinary Field Units (VFUs) in Jalalabad, Helmand and Farah provinces.

Under the Cattle Production Improvement Programme 1,200 kg balanced feed for poultry and 150kg mineral powder for cattle were distributed among selected farmers in Jalalabad last week.

Routine animal health and production activities in 255 districts inside Afghanistan are ongoing.

Improved Seed Production

FAO and WFP are continuing an effective food-for-seed scheme that has been operational in Afghanistan since 1994. The project involves some 50,000 farmers in various areas of the country. Selected farmers, with technical assistance from FAO and support from NGOs produce seed of highly yielding varieties of wheat and other cereals and pulses. WFP provides food wheat for quality-declared seed in the ratio of 1.25:1. This ensures that the seed producers have enough food to feed their families and that a large portion of their seed crops will reach other farmers, especially in food-deficit areas.

In 1999, WFP provided 5,000 tonnes of food wheat to selected farmers to enable them to engage in seed production activities and contribute to food security in Afghanistan.

Repatriation

UNHCR and the Islamic Republic of Iran signed an agreement on a Joint Programme for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees in Iran. The Joint Programme en-visages the return to Afghanistan of 3,000 Afghan refugees per week. UNHCR's assistance in facilitating voluntary repatriation from Iran will improve protection for Afghans in Iran.

Afghan refugees, who did not have proper papers would be given six months to register their presence and either ask to be sent home or submit a request for permission to stay in Iran. In the past year, 90,000 Afghans have returned home, a majority under forced repatriation.

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