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Assistance to Tajikistan OCHA Monthly Situation Update No. 9

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
GENERAL
Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, visited Dushanbe at the end of October to discuss with the Tajik authorities steps to improve the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs in relation to the crisis in Afghanistan. During his stay, Mr. Oshima also visited areas around the capital affected by the two-year drought underscoring the importance to keep high the profile of the needs in Tajikistan during the crisis of its southern neighbour.

WFP issued on 26 October an appeal for urgent food aid for one million people who are suffering from the devastating drought in Tajikistan. WFP has asked for 67,000 metric tonnes of food, to cover the needs of the most drought-affected from January to June 2002. In response to the food needs faced by Tajikistan, USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios announced on November 14 US$ 24.8 million in additional US aid for the country. Most of it will be in the form of food aid (see below).

The Commander of the Russian Border Forces stationed in Tajikistan has stated in an interview with a local paper that his forces seized 5.3 tons of drugs since the beginning of the year, half of which in heroin. He commented that the situation on the section of the Tajik-Afghan border guarded by Russian troops will remain tense irrespective of results of the U.S.-led anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The RSG, Mr. Ivo Petrov, was accompanied by the representative of the World Bank and OCHA on an assessment mission to the Karategin Valley. The area has been under restrictive security measures ever since the kidnapping of German Agro Action (GAA) aid workers in June. In a series of meetings at both district and village level, local authorities reassured the mission that there would be no obstacle in the way of a resumption of activities of the international community and dispelled speculation on the presence of "unwilling" guests from Afghanistan. At the moment, only MSF have expatriates working in the area while GAA, after restarting their activities in September, have decided to expand Food-for-Work projects in district Tavildara, the location of the kidnapping. All areas of Tajikistan are under Phase III, with the exception of the Tavildara and Darband districts which remain under Phase IV.

AFGHANISTAN CRISIS

The focus on contingency planning for a potential influx mentioned in the last report has now been retargeted in light of the events of the last few weeks, with the UN and other international humanitarian organisations looking at preparations for a re-entry into North-East (NE) Afghanistan and at implementing emergency assistance programmes to vulnerable populations across the border. Over the last month the number of NGOs in Dushanbe has grown considerably with new arrivals mostly if not exclusively interested in setting up operations in N and NE Afghanistan. The extremely fluid environment determined by the retreat of the Taliban from northern areas of Afghanistan and the potential threat posed by either pockets of resistance or the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance is forcing all to exercise extreme caution in delivering humanitarian assistance to displaced people, many of whom are now returning home.

Following a decree by the President of Tajikistan, the Coordination Group on Humanitarian Operations has been set up and has met for the first time. Established in the wake of the recommendation of the USG/ERC Oshima during his recent visit to Tajikistan, the body will seek to coordinate cooperation between Tajikistan and international humanitarian organizations on issues and problems arising on conducting humanitarian operations with respect to Afghanistan. The Government of Tajikistan (GoT) has also agreed to reopen the river crossing facilities at Nizhni Pyanj-Shir Khan Bandar on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

This facility, the most direct way to reach the city of Kunduz in NE Afghanistan, has been closed since October 2000 due to the presence of Taliban on the other side. WFP is currently assessing the needs to make the port operational.

The UN in Tajikistan is setting up a Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC) mandated to coordinate logistical activities and food and other aid deliveries from Tajikistan to Afghanistan. The Centre will be formed by UN agencies and representatives of NGOs registered in Tajikistan and will be coordinated by WFP.

UN flights have resumed between Dushanbe and Faizabad, after a successful test run on 13 - 15 November which took both an UNSECOORD team and the OCHA Regional Coordinator to assess the security situation in Faizabad. It is expected that UNSECOORD will make a recommendation for a rapid return of UN personnel to the area as the situation is considered to be stable.

EMERCOM has signed agreements with the Ministries of Emergency of both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to facilitate convoy movements on the Osh-Ishkashim route. The Tajik authorities will undertake to keep the roads clear with a deployment of over 100 staff and snow ploughs/bulldozers. The British Government agency DFID will provide coverage for some of the management costs faced by EMERCOM. WFP has also signed and agreement with EMERCOM to deliver 9,000 MT of food aid in two months from Osh to Faizabad in NE Afghanistan These agreements are a sign of good international cooperation (WFP-EMERCOM-GoT) and coordination, and underscore the commitment of the Government of Tajikistan in assisting relief efforts for Afghanistan.

Following reports that thousands of Afghan IDPs on the Pyanj river 'islands' had left and returned to their places of origin, UNHCR conducted a joint verification to the sites and concluded that only some 1,500 combatants have left the area while around 12,000 people remain. According to UNHCR, it is likely that the IDPs remaining on the islands will stay there through the winter. UNHCR distributed shelter and non-food items during the course of November. UNICEF undertook an assessment of the water and sanitation situation and continued its immunization campaign in conjunction with MERLIN, an NGO which has provided regular heath services to the sites. MERLIN staff believe that, with the onset of winter, there will be an increase in respiratory infections among the 'island' residents.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES

With the beginning of the wheat cultivation season, farmers in the Province of Khatlon are reported by WFP, to lack means to purchase needed seeds, fuel for rental of machinery, fertilizer, etc. This is a result of the previous season's low harvest, which was inadequate to replenish the expenses incurred. Many of them have already exhausted livestock or properties that can be bartered for agricultural inputs. It has become evident that without external assistance, farmers cannot venture to plant their lands, especially, those in rain-fed areas, worst hit by the drought

In support of poor farmers, the first lot of 22 tons of a UNHCR funded wheat seeds are being distributed to land-lease beneficiaries in border areas of Shaartuz, Qabodian and Jillikul of Khatlon Province. The joint WFP/UNHCR project supports nearly 1,000 farmers cultivating 345 hectares and envisages an input of WFP wheat flour of around 456 tons.

The WFP Project Appraisal Committee approved a total of fourteen projects as part of its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation. The projects vary from rehabilitation of infrastructure to land-lease to support of nutritional campaigns. Total beneficiaries involved are some 37,000.

During the course of the reporting period FAO commissioned with funding from SIDA several water pumping stations and rehabilitated drainage canals in the districts of Gissar and Vakhs to supply irrigation water to 1,893 hectares of agricultural land benefiting a rural population of over 16,500.

The SIDA-funded FAO veterinary program in Tajikistan organized in October and November two intensive two-week training courses for national veterinarians who will later on operate an FAO supported veterinary field unit. The total number of FAO supported veterinary field units in Tajikistan has increased to 245.

UNICEF undertook the second round of the National Immunization Day in the first half of November. It has been estimated that the coverage for the target group of children under 4 is close to 99%. Along with UNICEF and WHO, MSF is providing logistical and monitoring support in remote rural areas. Both rounds have included Afghan refugees in Tajikistan, the IDPs (remaining from the civil war) and the children on the islands between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. UNICEF provided the vaccines, whilst WHO have supported the logistical arrangements across most of the country.

WHO is continuing to assist the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the implementation of the health care reform and the preparation of the Primary Health Care Management guidelines. The Somoni team finalised five chapters (breastfeeding, rural health centre, city health centre, acute respiratory infections, child development form) which were reviewed by WHO consultants. A guarantied package of basic medical services was also elaborated. Family nursing training study plan and modules and family nursing residence curriculum were approved by the MoH, while the MoH/MERLIN memorandum on infectious diseases control and Roll Back Malaria, MoH/IFRC/RCS Agreement and Soros Foundation "Public Health Strategy 2002-2003" were assessed and brought in line with health reforms. WHO also conducted capacity building initiatives for increasing the professional qualifications of local health personnel.

According to WHO Roll Back Malaria Programme 6,332 malaria cases were registered in the republic for the period of 9 months of 2001, which is 9,567 cases or 60,2% less than the number of cases for the same period of 2000 (15,899 cases)

At the beginning of November, UNFPA received 12 Reproductive Health kits, some of which were handed to the NGO MERLIN for distribution to Afghan refugees through their mobile clinics, while the rest will be stored in Dushanbe at the NGO PSF warehouse. UNFPA is also currently reviewing a project proposal titled "Support for RH, Gender and Statistical Needs in Emergency Situations" formulated by Action Against Hunger.

Assessments

A nutritional survey funded by USAID and coordinated by AAH and CARE is currently ongoing in all provinces of Tajikistan. Teams from WFP, Save the Children - US, IFRC, MSF/Holland, Mission East, CAD, Mercy Corps Tajikistan and the Government's Nutritional Council are collecting data on the nutritional condition of children under 5 and on caretakers, and will look at socio-economic parameters across the country. The report is expected to be completed by the middle of December.

A School feeding baseline survey is being conducted in all Provinces by WFP. A comprehensive set of data is being gathered on attendance records, enrolment statistics, etc. Helping in the exercise are ACTED in Sughd and Khatlon Region, Red Crescent in Gorno Badakhshan and the Educational Departments in Gharm area.

Oxfam is presently undertaking an assessment in Tajikistan and are looking into medium to longer term program activities related to the drought.

RELATIONS/NEGOTIATIONS WITH TAJIK GOVERNMENT

Dushanbe has been the site of a great number of visits from foreign diplomats and dignitaries. Among the high profile delegations were the President of Russia, the US Secretary of State, the Iranian and German Foreign Ministers, the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Afghanistan and the Turkish President. The increase in the official visits over the last month could be straining the capacity of the MFA and the Office of the President to fulfil protocol related matters.

The Tajik President has granted permission for US planes to use the airspace of Tajikistan for delivering humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. In addition, the President has agreed to loan the use of one or two of the airports available in the country as bases to provide logistic support to US troops Afghanistan or to carry out search-and-rescue operations. The use of these facilities by the military could have implications for the humanitarian cargo that already lands there.

In an effort to increase transparency and streamline procedures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published the list of consular fees for visas and has demanded that border permits be requested through the offices of OCHA. In addition a consular desk has been opened at the airport to facilitate the obtaining of appropriate documentation. Despite the long delays experienced in the past, visas should now be issued within three working days. Issuance of permits for cross-border operations is still causing delays as it involves the competency of a number of institutions (MFA, Ministry of Security and Russian Border Guards).

PLEDGES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Update on CAP 2001 (as of 21 November)

Appealing Org.
Original Requirements
Revised Requirements
Contributions
Pledges
Carry Over
Total resources available
Unmet Requirements
% Covered
FAO
3,010,875
3,010,875
738,473
738,473
2,272,402
24.53%
IOM
235,542
235,542
245,000
245,000
100.00%
OCHA
383,675
383,675
326,913
326,913
56,762
85.21%
UNDP
3,533,040
3,533,040
3,533,040
0.00%
UNFPA
324,500
324,500
50,000
50,000
274,500
15.41%
UNICEF
3,581,800
3,581,800
188,997
188,997
3,392,803
5.28%
UNIFEM
642,800
642,800
642,800
0.00%
WFP
66,253,000
62,228,517
35,086,559
35,086,559
27,141,958
56.38%
WHO
4,049,200
4,049,200
85,034
85,034
3,964,166
2.10%
Total
82,014,432
77,989,949
36,632,942
85,034
36,717,976
41,281,431
47.08%

USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios has announced a US$ 24.8 million in additional aid for the drought affected population in Tajikistan. US$ 20 million will be committed to the purchase of 35,000 MT of wheat flour for WFP's Emergency Operation in Tajikistan and U$ 4 million for community development and irrigation rehabilitation. The US Government is also providing US$ 800,000 worth of improved winter wheat seeds and fertilizer for some 24,900 drought-affected families. The pledge from USAID will reduce WFP's shortfall to 9% of the overall appeal for 121,821 tons required for the period October 2001 to June 2002.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a US$950,000 technical assistance grant funded by Japan to prepare a project to improve basic education and health services in Tajikistan. The grant will prepare a Social Sector Development Project to improve the quality and efficiency of the heath and education sectors, increase access to basic social services by the poor, especially girls, and establish a monitoring mechanism.

The Government of India presented US $ 100,000 worth of medicine to the Government of Tajikistan in response to a request made by the Minister of Health and the United Nations anti-AIDS Program. While the Chinese Embassy in Dushanbe has provided 2 tons of food items in assistance to the boarding school in the Rasht District of the country.

OUSTANDING ISSUES/FORTHCOMING EVENTS

The official launch of the Consolidated Appeal will take place in Tokyo on the 27th of November. The launch, which was initially due to take place in Geneva, was moved to Japan following the visit to Tajikistan of the USG Oshima and his first hand experience of the difficulties afflicting the country. The launch will be combined with the launch of the Appeal for Afghanistan.

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