Press briefing by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, UNAMA Spokesman 16 Jan 2003

Update on Whooping Cough Outbreak in Badakhshan

Dr. Jon Fleerackers, who is in Maymay as part of the joint government/interagency taskforce effort to contain the whooping cough outbreak in Badakshan Province, will be returning today with samples and specimens for laboratory testing. We were informed of this earlier today by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Kabul. We will continue to update you as we receive more information. If you are interested, once he gets back, we can invite him to our briefing.

We also have available for you at the back of the room a very limited supply of maps, which chart the outbreak of the disease and give some geographical idea as to where it is taking place. The map covers the Badakshan Province and highlights the district affected by the disease - Darwaz. The five main areas affected by whooping cough are highlighted in pink. They are Qaleh-i-Quf; Shahr-i-Sabz; Nusai; Jamarj-i-Payan and Maymay. As we have been telling you, these locations are all in mountainous terrain and as evident from the map very close to the Tajik border. The charts were kindly prepared for us by the Afghanistan Information Management Systems (AIMS).

Behzadi School Project in Shakardara District, Kabul Province

After next Wednesday, more than 1500 Afghan girls and boys will be able to go back to Behzadi School in the Shakardara District of Kabul Province. The school, which was completely destroyed by war, has been rebuilt by the Ministry of Education, the District Administration and local communities with the help of UNDP's Recovery and Employment Afghanistan Programme (REAP). In addition to providing employment for 20 teachers after Wednesday, the construction phase of the project also provided work for 100 vulnerable people, including returnees, over a 20-week period.

The REAP Programme simultaneously addresses the high unemployment level and the effects of war on Afghanistan. It is funded by the Government of Japan and implemented in close cooperation with the national institutions and communities. REAP has so far invested 17 per cent of its project budget (US$3 million) on education in its efforts to reinforce the Afghan education system.

If members of the press are interested in attending the launch please call 070 279 477/070 284 749 for the time and location of the launch next week.

IOM Implements USAID Projects to Empower Afghan Women

The Ministry of Women' Affairs (MOWA) is about to implement a US$2.5 million programme that will promote the socioeconomic empowerment of women throughout Afghanistan by focusing on delivering literacy and training skills to Afghan women. Under this programme, which will be closely supported by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 14 provincial women's centres will be built in the country.

The projects will construct and rehabilitate 33 schools serving some 35,700 girls in 11 provinces around the country. Support will also be provided to the Intermediate Medical Institute (IMI) in Mazar-i-Sharif - one of five Afghan institutions providing training for 700 nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacologists and lab technicians every year. The programme will also rehabilitate the MOWA complex in Kabul, including the equipping of eleven offices, as well as provide support for technical advisors to help the Ministry set up operations and develop programmes.

The project is part of IOM's USAID-funded Afghanistan Transition Initiative (ATI) program, which has promoted community and infrastructure development in concert with the Afghan transitional government since the beginning of 2002.

Afghan Refugees Resettle in New Zealand

An IOM charter flight carrying 45 Afghans destined for resettlement in New Zealand will leave the Pacific island of Nauru today.

The refugees are from the IOM-managed migrant processing centres on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, and on Nauru. They were intercepted at sea en route to Australia and have spent over a year in the centres in Manus and Nauru, while the Australian authorities processed their asylum claims. Their departure will leave some 390 Afghan asylum seekers in Nauru and in Manus.

Over 230 Afghans in Nauru whose asylum claims were rejected by Australia voluntarily returned to Afghanistan with IOM in 2002. Under the agreement, each received a US$1,100 reintegration grant from the Australian government.

UNAMA website

We told you several weeks ago about the UNAMA website that was about to start. After solving a number of technical problems it is now up and running. Just to remind you that our website address is:

It is an easy site with links to all other United Nations sites on Afghanistan. The website also provides among many other things access to transcripts of the briefing; statements by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and; all relevant United Nations documents, including all General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Afghanistan.

Radio Programme

Another information products is a radio programme that is going out weekly on Radio Afghanistan. It is produced by Radio Afghanistan and supported by us at UNAMA. The programme is called "The World and Afghanistan". It is currently being broadcast on Saturday mornings at 9:30. It will be moving to Fridays. It has been on air since December 6. The programme is half an hour long; it is in Dari and Pashto. It is broadcast here in Kabul on FM and goes to the rest of the country on short waves. In this week's programme there will be an interview with Mr. Brahimi touching on number of issues. The focus section of the programme will be on the Constitutional problems and Vice President Shahrani, who is also the Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Commission will be the guest of the programme. He will provide all the information on that process.