Press Briefing by Adrian Edwards Spokesperson for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan

Statement on Election funding
Unmans concerned about the $31 million shortfall in funding for Afghanistan’s upcoming elections. This is worrying, less than seven weeks away from the elections. If these funds do not become available very shortly it will hamper essential preparatory work such as voter education, the establishment of thousands of polling facilities and the hiring of over 140,000 polling staff.

The consequence could include a postponement of the election and the loss of a huge investment made in the election this year. We urge donor governments to reaffirm their commitment to the September elections by acting to address this problem as rapidly as possible.

For press representatives the JEMB’s next regular press conference will be on Wednesday at 11am in the JEMB compound. The focus will be on women and elections.

DDR / DIAG update
Numerical indicators of progress are continuing to rise with Afghanistan’s various disarmament and reintegration processes. Figures provided this morning by the Afghan New Beginnings Programme, which is a government Programme supported by the UN and donors, show that 57,597 ex-combatants have either entered or completed reintegration. This is an increase of550 over the figures that were current as of our last briefing on Thursday.

In line with this process, a number of ex-combatants have recently graduated from two separate programmes. A ceremony for 98 ex-combatants who graduated from a construction project supervisor Programme was held yesterday at Kabul Polytechnic, and 100 additional people will undergo similar training in the near future. With teacher training, some 180 people have now graduated and a further 142 are in training. The ammunition survey is ongoing throughout the country.

With Disbanding of Illegal Armed Groups 7781 weapons are now verified as having been handed in, 4052 of these from election candidates. Also verified at 5677 boxes of ammunition, and 17,311 individual pieces. Weapons collection points remain open in all provinces.

UNHCR facilitates voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Gujranwala
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has organized the first ever repatriation of Afghans from Gujranwala city, Pakistan –yesterday 150 Afghans left the city to return to Afghanistan under the ongoing repatriation Programme.

Since March this year, more than 214,000 Afghans have returned from Pakistan with UNHCR help. As you know, all UNHCR repatriations are voluntary.