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

 

SRSG Koenigs in visit to Iran
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, is in Tehran today and tomorrow on a visit aimed at promoting regional cooperation. This is in line with the aims of the Afghanistan Compact.

UNAMA’s recently renewed mandate includes the promotion of confidence-building measures and cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors. Last week, Mr. Koenigs told members of the press in Kabul that the future of Afghanistan is the future of the region, and called on Afghanistan and its neighbors to work together to promote tolerance and cooperation.

Asif this morning Mr. Koenigs schedule remained subject to change but includes meetings with Foreign Minister Motta Ki, Interior Minister Purmohammadi, and the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Economic Affairs and International Specialized Agencies Office, the Deputy Minister of Economy, members of the UN Country Team and the diplomatic community.

Afghanistan Compact’s Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board meets for first session
yesterday saw the first meeting of the high-level Afghan-International body for overseeing implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. The Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board will meet four times each year. Its job is to resolve strategic issues and provide impetus for the Compact’s implementation.

Yesterday’s session, being the first, saw discussion of the JCMB’s role and responsibilities. It looked at the monitoring tools or “matrices “for the consultative groups charged with working on the various areas of the Compact, such as security, governance, rule of law and so on. One of the requests at yesterday’s meeting was for the timeline of the Afghanistan Compact to be shifted by six weeks or so to coincide with the Afghan Year beginning on March 21. This is to ensure consistency with government data cycles. You may recall that previously the start date was from the London Conference itself, which was on January 31st and February 1st.

Copies of a speech by the SRSG, a joint statement, facts for journalists, and the Afghanistan Compact itself are available on the UNAMA website (www.unama-afg.org) in Dari, Pashto and English.

New study on social and economic rights in Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has completed its first comprehensive assessment of economic and social rights in Afghanistan.

The study, which was released this morning, has been compiled on the basis of interviews with almost 8000 people. Among the findings are that half of those interviewed did not have access to safe drinking water, 40.6percent had problems with the habitability of their homes, and in one-in-five families all the children worked.

The AIHRC report, ‘Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan’s the result of a joint study by AIHRC and UNHCR that was conducted between April and December 2005 in 29 provinces, mainly in rural areas. Help was also provided by UNAMA.

Afghanistan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1983.

UNICEF: polio immunization campaign to target 2 million Afghan children
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will soon be launching polio eradication drive which will target more than 2 million Afghan children in the southern, south-eastern and eastern regions of Afghanistan.

The three-day campaign, which begins next Sunday May 7, comes as a result of a sixth case of the polio virus in the country earlier this year.

The immunization campaign, led by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), is part of an ongoing effort to eradicate polio, with more than 15,000 health workers due to travel house to house in eleven provinces – Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Zabul, Uruzgan, Ghazni, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Nangarhar, and Kunar.

Afghanistan is one of just four countries in the world still affected by polio. Two months ago, Egypt was declared polio-free after successful immunization efforts.

Click hereto read the detailed UNICEF press release.

Update on flooding assistance in Namangan Province
UNAMA is coordinating relief efforts to help 106 vulnerable families in Khuram Wa Sarbagh district of Namangan Province, who have been affected by last week’s floods.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered some eight tons of wheat, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and fortified biscuits. UNICEF has provided 30 family relief kits via the Department of Disaster Preparedness. These kits provide essential household items such as cooking utensils, plastic sheeting, soap, and water carriers for one family.

DIAG launches Main Phase in Kapitsa Province
The Main Phase of the Disbanding of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) process was getting under way in Kapitsa province this morning at a ceremony attended by government officials, diplomats and UNAMA representatives.

Interior Minister Zafar Ahmad Mumble presided over a launch ceremony at the governor’s compound in Mahmood Iraqi. Notification letters are being handed to commanders identified as leaders of illegal armed groups.
These letters will inform commanders that they have 30 days to voluntarily disband their illegal militias, followed by 30 days for negotiated compliance. The final stage is enforced compliance.

Some groups are expected to hand over weapons at the ceremony. To date, almost 21, 000 weapons, as well as more than 160,000 pieces of ammunition have been surrendered under the earlier stages of the DIAG process.

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UNESCO report: teachers and educational quality report
I would like to draw your attention to a new report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on teachers and educational quality across the world.

There port identifies Afghanistan as having the fastest growing student population in South and West Asia with a 55 percent increase in primary education enrolment between 2000 and 2004. The report also highlights that there were 68,000 teachers working in Afghanistan in 2004, and nearly 104,000new teachers will be required by 2015 to meet the future needs of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goal is to provide primary education to all children by 2020.

UNESCO, UNDP and UNICEF are all working with the Government of Afghanistan to help meet needs in this area.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Education have just signed an agreement for a five-month Programme to train teachers. This project, which began earlier this month is supported by Afghanistan’s New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) and is intended for women related to ex-combatants.

The project is aimed at educating women while facilitating the reintegration of ex-combatants and their family into civilian life. Training is taking place throughout Afghanistan and 563 women have already applied for 340 places.