Secretary-General cites little progress in Afghanistan

Highlights of the Noon Briefing
By Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
UN Headquarters, New York
The Secretary-General's latest report on Afghanistan was made available today. This report is his annual summary of the progress of peace efforts in Afghanistan, which covers events since 23 November 1998.

The report is a grim one, with the Secretary-General observing that "the conflict in Afghanistan is increasingly having a negative impact beyond the borders of that country." He notes the increasing number of refugees from fighting between the Taliban and the United Front, reports of ethnically motivated mass killings and the pervasive abuse of human rights, particularly those of women.

In response to the developments described in the report, the Secretary-General says that he and his Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, have agreed that the Special Envoy's activities be "frozen" until circumstances change to justify his intervention.

Until then, he recommends that the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) assume the primary role of UN peace efforts. The Secretary-General says he intends to appoint a Head of the UNSMA Mission at the Assistant Secretary-General level and also intends over time to move UNSMA's head office from Islamabad to Kabul.