Press Briefing: 25 April 2018

Press Briefing by David Singh
Senior Media Relations Officer
and by United Nations Agencies in Afghanistan

25 April 2018

Kabul

 

  • Explosive Device Hits Rear wall of UNHCR Warehouse

Some of you have been asking about recent attacks and possible casualties to aid workers. At about midnight on 22 April in Kunduz city, an explosive device hit the rear wall of a warehouse leased from the Government by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and managed by the Agency’s implementing partner – German Technical Cooperation (GTZ). No casualties or injuries were reported.

The Police have not yet determined the cause of the attack. Preliminary investigations at the site revealed several fragments of thick metal, indicating it was caused by some form of artillery since the extent of damage was too minimal to be that of a mortar or a grenade attack. It was also deduced that the round was fired and that an explosive device had not been planted. Parts of the exterior wall were damaged, and there was also a hole in the open ground beyond the wall in the warehouse, which was being used to build toilets.

All employees working in this warehouse were non-UN staff. There are armed and unarmed guards at the site 24 hours a day.

  • IED Explosions in Kandahar

Last Thursday (22 April) at about 4:45 a.m. some 200 meters west of the Kandahar City Customs Gate on the Kandahar Airport Road, an unidentified man detonated an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that he was either placing or arming. The man died instantly in the blast. No UN staff were injured and there was no damage to UN property.

Following that incident, at 9:10 a.m. on the same day, a UN electoral vehicle with two national staff members and one international were proceeding in an easterly direction along the Kandahar Airport Road. The vehicle was leading a two-car convoy, both of which had UN markings. Approximately five kilometers past the Kandahar City Customs Gate and around100metres from a Government check post, the vehicle passed over a culvert. The culvert was flanked on one side by three 44-gallon drums Andon the other by two 44-gallon drums painted red and white and used as traffic control measures. When the vehicle was within one metro the last drum in the series, an IED in the drum was detonated. The vehicle was thrown back approximately 2-3 meters. It stalled but was restarted after the fourth attempt. No personnel were injured in the blast and both vehicles returned to the UN Compound. The lead vehicle sustained damage to its panels and windscreen.

Upon investigation, the drum could be viewed from up to 1,000 meters away on flat, featureless and treeless ground. Although no firing device was found, it is likely that the IED was detonated via remote-control due to its precise initiation.

  • 4,600 Voter Registration Sites to Open for Phase II

The Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) continues to expand its operations throughout the country in preparation for Phase II of the registration process. It is now active in 31 provinces and in each of these locations field coordinators are conducting training and recruiting staff.

The plan for phase II is to open 4,600 registration sites across the country. Each of these sites will contain two registration teams– one for women and one for men. As in Phase I, each registration team will have four members: a Team Leader; a Registration Officer; a Photographer and a Lamination Officer. If you multiply the number of estimated registration sites for Phase II (4,600) by the number of staff for the male and female teams (8), you get the total number of staff that the JEMB has to recruit for Phase II: 36,800. This recruitment is being undertaken at the provincial and district level. As we have said before, Phase II is scheduled to begin on 1 May.

Regarding the issue of out-of-country registration for Afghan refugees, wean tell you that memorandums of understanding are being drafted between Afghanistan and the Governments of Iran and Pakistan on how to conduct out-of-country registration and polling for the election. Special provisions for Afghans who return to Afghanistan to take part in the elections are also being established.

Asif yesterday, 1,862,689 Afghans had registered to vote. The gender breakdown is 1,310,101 men and 552,588 women or 70 percent to 30percent. Women have made up one-third of all registrants for the past ten weeks. A breakdown of the figures is available on the side table.

  • 152 Police Complete Training in the Southeast; 3,000 Police to be trained in Kandahar by June

Last Thursday, 22 April, another 152 police officers from Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Ghazni and Lugar provinces graduated from the Gardez Police Academy after a two-week training course. Last Sunday we told youth at following a four-week training course, 142 police officers had graduated from the Gardez Police Academy. The training courses are two weeks long for literate officers and four weeks long for illiterate officers.

Just to recap, in early March, an intensive Programme to upgrade the skills of policemen in the southeast began. The training imparts international standards of policing. The course is part of the Academy’s Transition Integration Program (TIP), which is a refresher course for senior police officers. A total of 816 have graduated so farming two weeks, 600 more police officers and 400 policemen will undergo similar training to upgrade skills and acquire basic training. On10 March 1,000 police from Balk, Sar-i-Pul, Faryab, Jawjan and Samanganbegan the same course at the Mazar Police Academy.

In Kandahar City, 175 officers from Kandahar, Hilmand, Uruzgan, Zabuland Nimroz began training last Thursday under the Transition Integration Program. A total of 396 police from the southern area have graduated in two batches from the Kandahar Police Academy. The aim is to train some 3,000 police in the south by June. The TIP is led and funded by the United States and complements training by Germany, the lead nation assisting in the reform of the Afghan police.

  • UNAMA to Train Police Trainers on Electoral Policing

Starting at noon today and lasting until 28 April, eight police officers selected by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) will attend a Trainer of Trainers Course here at UNAMA. The Civilian Police Unit of UNAMA will train these master trainers on key elements of voter registration security, including respect for human rights and the protection of voter registrations teams and sites. Following this course, from2-5 May these trainers will give the same training to 64 police officers – two per province – who will be selected to come to Kabul to learn about training in electoral policing. They will then return to their respective provinces to train provincial policemen on voter and registration security.

  • WFP Gives Communication Equipment to Ministries

Ata ceremony to be held at 2:30pm today, the World Food Programme(WFP) will handover communications equipment to representatives from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD)and the Ministry of Communication (Mock). The equipment consists of 168 computers, 58 printers and 30 communication towers. Today’s ceremony will be held at the WFP Compound in Kabul. Media are invited to attend.

The donation of equipment to the MRRD is part of the second phase of capacity development project, which began in September 2003 and is worth an estimated $500,000. WFP’s support to the Ministry of Communication is estimated at $250,000 and aims to assist in establishing communication centers in each of the provincial capitals.

More information is available in a media advisory on the side table.

  • National Solidarity Programme Releases Quarterly Report

The Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development (MRRD) has just released a quarterly report on the activities of its National Solidarity Programme (NSP), a community-based empowerment Programme that operates in every province of the country.

Although the NSP began in August of 2003, it is now in its most significant phase during which grant payments are being distributed. In the past three months, from the beginning of January to the end of March, some $4.6 million was disbursed for 463 community projects.

There are now some 3,800 local development councils that have been elected by community members across the country. Electing these councils is the first step for communities to decide on the type of project their neighborhood needs. Local councils have submitted 1,709 new projects in recent weeks, 600 of which have already been approved. The NSP expects to disburse up to $25 million by July, with the average project costing $11,000. Projects range from building roads and schools to repairing irrigation canals and bridges.

This is managed by the MRRD with support from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) and some 22 local and international NGOs. Funding is provided by the World Bank.

  • MUDH and World Bank to Hold Workshop to Discuss Urban Land Issues

This Wednesday, 28 April, the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) and the World Bank will hold a workshop to discuss urban land issues in Afghanistan. This will take place from 8:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. at the ASSA 2 Guesthouse in Kabul.

The primary purpose of the workshop is to launch the Urban Land Sector Study and identify critical land issues in Kabul and other urban areas. The Study Team will be comprised of World Bank staff as well as international and legal experts. The Study will be conducted over the next several months and will address various inter-related land sector issues including land markets, property rights, land-use planning, administration regulation, taxation and investment. The objective is to produce policy guidance on these and other important land development issues.

Interested media can attend the opening session between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. There is also a media advisory available on the side table for more details.