5 September 2018
Statement on the announcement of the new Afghani currency
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan welcomes wholeheartedly the announcement by President Hamid Karzai that the new Afghani currency is to be introduced throughout Afghanistan. He is confident that the Transitional Authority will successfully overcome the enormous logistical challenges likely to be faced in undertaking the currency exchange.
The introduction of a single new currency will bring to an end the use of the multiple Afghani currencies that are currently in circulation. This currency reform is going to help bring monetary stability to the country and is a necessary precondition for the establishment of an effective national banking system.
Butte gains are much broader than this. The currency exchange is an investment in the future and security of Afghanistan. It represents another significant milestone in the transition process, initiated with the Bonn Agreements, and accelerated by the Emergency Loyal Jirga and the installation of the Transitional Authority. Such currency reform is a unifying factor for Afghanistan and will also contribute to social stability in the country. It will help to reinforce the institutions of government and will also help strengthen the confidence of Afghans in their young national administration. And for all external partners involved in humanitarian relief and reconstruction of the country, this step will significantly ease their financial transactions and therefore their ability to deliver assistance in an increasingly cost-effective manner.
The United Nations is pleased to be part of this process and will continue to assist to the best of its ability. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General applauds the courage and determination of the Transitional Administration in taking this bold initiative and urges Afghanistan’s friends to support it fully as it takes another important step on the road to national unity and stability.
–UNAMA mission in Mazar on the question of the gravesites
The UNAMA mission that went to the North to meet with regional leaders on the question of the gravesites returned yesterday. They met with General Us tad Atta Muhammad and Abdul Rashid Dictum. They also met with Mr. Sultana, deputy to Mohamad Said from Herb What Islamic, also a signatory of the 28 August joint statement, and who was out of the country.
They were separate meetings and in all of them the UNAMA team noted that investigations must be impartial. The team also reiterated that both UNAMA and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are ready to cooperate and assist with such independent investigations, identifying expertise, resources, forensic teams, etc.
The team reaffirmed that the purpose of such investigations is to be decided by Afghans, as they hold consultations on transitional justice. Such consultations will be organized by the Afghan Human Rights Commission.
The Northern leaders repeated their view of the problem, as already described in their joint statement. They all reiterated their willingness to cooperate with an investigation provided that it be not limited to Dasht-e-Lily. They said they could offer some security to investigators and witnesses. However they also said that they would not be able to guarantee full security and therefore would need international assistance.
Regarding the site itself, the Afghan Human Rights Commission already recommended that adequate measures be taken by the Afghan authorities to protect the Dasht-e-Leilly. UNAMA will continue and increase its visit to the gravesite, however it does not have the means to provide it with full protection, which is a responsibility of the Afghan authorities.
In the past few weeks, either I or my colleagues from the UN agencies have made reference to the security situation in the eastern provinces. We have said that conditions did not allow for our regular presence income areas.
Throughout this period, the UNAMA officers, along with colleagues from UN agencies have conducted a number of missions to review developments on the ground.
As a result of the latest assessment, UN staff from all agencies operating in Gardez, Khost, Patio and Patoka have been advised that they can resume operations and presence in these areas. The Kabul-Jalalabad road is also open for UN road missions. However, as the region is not considered stable, caution is necessary.
–UNEP Press Conference
Last week we told you about the United Nations Environment Programmed (UNEP) mission coming to Afghanistan. We have some more information about the environmental assessment teams who will be arriving in Afghanistan over the following days.
The Head of the assessment mission is Mr. Pokka Heaviest who is the Chairman of the Post Conflict Assessment Unit of UNEP. Mr. Heaviest will be accompanied by fifteen international experts who along with Afghan personnel from the Transitional Administration and NGOs will be organized into five teams that will travel to various parts of the country.
The environmental assessment will take place throughout the month of September and will comprise of three integrated components. First, an assessment of forests, wetlands, existing and potential protected areas and pollution hotspots. Second, an assessment to determine financial project support opportunities from multilateral environmental conventions and funding mechanisms and third, an assessment of the institutional and administrative needs, including environmental laws, standards, monitoring, enforcement and coordination.
Mr.Haavisto will hold a press conference in this room on Thursday 12 September at 10.30 after our regular briefing.
–Training of Women Journalists
The World Health Organization, together with UNICEF launched a “Women Journalists Training Programmed” yesterday afternoon.
16 women will follow two weeks of training in basic journalistic skills, followed by one week’s education on health issues. They will then produce a one hour radio programmer -half an hour in Dari, half an hour Pashtu – on women’s health issues to be broadcast twice a week on Radio Afghanistan.
This training is being provided by Media Action International here in Kabul.
Questions and Answers
Q: Did the mission go to Dasht-e-Lily?
Spokesman: To be very frank, I don’t know. The site is being visited regularly by our staff in Mazar. So, I don’t think there would be the need for them to visit the site.
Q: You were talking about the eastern province situation, according to some sources, there is quite a sense of tension around Kandahar province. Dodo have some information about that?
Spokesman: I have heard about that but I don’t have any details that are more concrete for me to share with you.
Q: Is the lack of security around Mazar a surprise to you? Does it turn the investigation off track or its schedule?
Spokesman: There is no schedule. The investigation is something that many people including ourselves think is very important. But there is no schedule for the investigation yet.
Q: Are you lobbying for an investigation with the government?
Spokesman: It is not a matter of lobbying. It is a matter of providing them with the assistance that they think they need. They sent more than one mission to the north in the last week or two. We don’t know the result of that. I believe that now that we have sent yet another team that just talked to the northern leadership and we will be talking with the Commission for Human Rights here. We will be talking with the government. We will be talking with the international community and sharing this firsthand information we now have from the northern leaders.
Q: What do you say when you hear about those [inaudible] operations in the east? How long have they been stopped for?
Spokesman: It was not anything like from today on that was stopped. The situation was degrading gradually and then missions were not allowed there anymore. Then at one point we recommended that people should not be there but there was not a cut-off date. So, it was, as Isai, the situation was gradually eroding. In this process, our security people along with our political officers kept going there to review with the local leadership and also review with the people on the ground what the conditions were for us to come back and we are back. But, of course, with a lot of caution, a lot of attention on security concerns.
Q: The Commission for Human Rights made an investigation initially I think back in February and later in April. Was there a report into that or is that the UN report that UNAMA has?
Spokesman: No, the Commission for Human Rights did not do an investigation. In fact the Commission for Human Rights was only established much after February. I believe that in February there was a visit – but I am not quite sure myself – of forensic experts. But, in May there was a mission, not only to the north, but also to Bamyan. Admission sponsored by UNAMA and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with experts from Physicians for Human Rights working as consultants for us. They visited one site in Bamyan and two sites in the north. One known as the Mazar airport site and the other one Dasht-e-Lily. That mission was what we call the preliminary investigation type of mission. Once they finish their work here we from this very podium here, we made known the relevant aspects of their findings. Among the recommendations there was that what they did in Dasht-e-Lily indicated and really called for a full investigation. But certain conditions are required for instance witness protection programmer. That is a very important element of an investigation like that. Another important element is the one I referred to today but also before is that the decision that the Afghans have to make and the Afghan Human Rights Commission is looking into that –what kind of transitional justice they want to have – in other words, how do they want to address atrocities and serious crimes of the past. Some countries have opted for truth commissions. Some other countries have opted for tribunals. I understand that others have a mix of both. But that is something that very much comes from the nationals of the country- how they want to do it. Not an easy decision but a very important one [inaudible].
Q: Well, couldn’t it be said that this could be an international war crimes investigation if it were the case that there were Special Forces present at the time?
Spokesman: This is a very long-term speculation. Letups see what the Afghans want.
Q: Can you tell us specifically how do they run [inaudible] and can you clarify – it wasn’t quite clear – who they met with and who they didn’t meet with. They met Dictum and Atta but there were some people you said who were not present?
Spokesman: No, sorry that I was not clear but I thought was. They met with General Atta Mohammad. They met with General Dustman they met with Mr. Sultana who is the deputy to Mohamad Said from Herb What Islamic. The reason they met with Mr. Sultana is that Mr. Said was out of the country. The reason they went to meet with these three was because these were the signatories of the joint statement of 28 August.
Q: What did they learn that wasn’t already in the joint statement?
Spokesman: First of all, one thing is to read a joint statement, another thing is to talk with these leaders in a private meeting. That is very important. They, in private, reiterated their views of how events took place. They also reiterated their commitment to cooperate with any investigation. It is very important that they stressed that this investigation not be limited to Dasht-e-Lily. That I think is an element that was known before but the emphasis that they put on that is very relevant. It is also very important that the question of security of witnesses. That they say they can supply some security but not 100 percent, that they would need assistance for that.
Q: But why can’t they supply the security?
Spokesman: I don’t know. That is their statement.
Q: Is there something the UN can do to assist them?
Spokesman: What do you mean UN?
Q cont.: Well didn’t the UN Commission seem to think that this had an international dimension to it? Could you not assist them to provide the security for witnesses?
Spokesman: I think we can speculate on a number of things. But it is not my job to speculate. The international community would have to agree what kind of assistance but above all the assistance [requirements] has to be spelt out first. What is it that is needed and on top of it all we need the national government which is the sovereign authority for this country to determine what assistance, if any, they feel they need. We believe they would need assistance.
Thank you very much.