Press Briefing: 12 December 2017

Press Briefing by Arianne Quinter
Senior Public Information Officer
and by United Nations Agencies in Afghanistan


12 December 2017


Today’s Guest

Our special guest today is Richard Bennett, who is the Head of the Human Rights Unit of UNAMA and he will tell us about the proclamation, by the General Assembly, of the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

  • “25 years of war have produced a list of all possible violations of Human Rights in Afghanistan”

Emanuel told you during the last briefing, Friday was the International Day of Human Rights. Commemorations organized by the Afghan Independent Commission for Human Rights (AICHR) took place yesterday, including in Kabul where a monument celebrating Human Rights was unveiled at the University of Education.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, Filippo Grandi, delivered a speech which emphasized that ”25 years of war have produced a list of all possible violations of Human Rights in Afghanistan” among which he cited “extortion, intimidation, illegal detention, torture, trafficking of children, abuse against women and deprivation of economic and social rights”. Filippo Grandi recognized that the situation had much improved in the last years, commending the work of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, requesting, as he put it, “a lot of courage.”

The fundamental Human Rights are inscribed on the monument in six languages spoken in Afghanistan. This was praised by Filippo Grandi as celebrating “Unity and Diversity”.

  • Foot improve food security and nutrition in Afghanistan

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has just released its 2004 report on The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Although there is limited data about Afghanistan, the nation remains one of 35 countries in the world faced with food crises requiring emergency assistance.

In order to improve food security, the FAO has been designing support programmes with the distribution of seeds as one of the major targets. Last fall, for instance, 2300 metric tons of wheat seeds were provided to farmers. In 2005 three hundred metric tons of drought-resistant varieties of wheat seeds will be distributed in response to the government Drought Appeal.

Another tool to improve food security nationwide was the locust control campaign undertaken last year in Balkh, Baghlan, Kunduz, and Samanganand Takhar. Some 200,000 hectares were treated saving an estimated 500, 000 tons of wheat for a total value of US$114 million.

In Farah province, where sandstorms have badly damaged the irrigation structures, canals and karees were cleaned, and hydraulic structures were rehabilitated in a Programme which generated cash-for-work opportunities.

Finally, let me mention that these programmes are put in place in cooperation with the relevant Afghan ministries, mostly Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment; but also in collaboration with the Afghanistan’s New Beginnings Programme (ANBP). FAO is providing ex-combatants with agricultural livelihood packages, as well as training, to facilitate their reintegration in society.


  • 2,600 families in southeast to receive winter assistance package

2,600families will be receiving a winter assistance package in the provinces of Paktya, Khost, Ghazni and Paktika. This will be part of a winter Programme approved last week and designed for the most needy and vulnerable families of these provinces. The breakdown is as follows: 700 families in Paktya, 700 families in Khost, 700 families in Ghazni, and 500 families in Paktika.

The Programme will be implemented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and four Non-Government Organizations, namely the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in North Paktya and Gardez, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) South Paktya and Paktika, the Afghan Planning Agency (APA) in Khost and Abu Muslim Khorasany Rehabilitation Unit (ARU) in Ghazni.

The distribution of items will include plastic sheeting, lanterns, blankets and quilts, stoves, soap and toothpaste, sewing kits and layette kits for babies.

Operational costs for the entire Programme amounts to approximately $45,000USD. This does not include the cost of the items being distributed.

  • UNOD Contributes to two-day National Conference on Counter Narcotics

Two-day National Conference on Counter Narcotics wrapped up on Friday in Kabul. Discussed, during the conference, was the action to be taken by the Government and the people of Afghanistan in the campaign to put a stop to the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs over the coming year.

The conference was attended by senior figures in the country including religious elders, political representatives as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Doris Battenberg, the UNODC Representative in Afghanistan, was one of the guest speakers and said: “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime through its Country Office for Afghanistan has been supporting the government of Afghanistan in the institutional development of Law Enforcement, Judicial Reform, Alternative Livelihood, the annual opium survey and Drug Demand Reduction sectors. And we will continue to do so.”

According to the “Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004” published by the UNODC last month, Afghanistan is now producing 87% of the opium in the world, which accounts for more than 60% of its gross domestic product. The cultivation of poppy has risen 64% since 2003 involving 356, 000 Afghan families.

Toucan find the “Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004” survey on the website:

  • Policy on poppy eradication during discussion panel organized by ACBAR

As we are talking, the Agency Co-ordination Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) is organizing a discussion panel regarding future policy on poppy eradication in Afghanistan. ACBAR has invited a number of significant actors in this field including representatives of the Afghan Counter-Narcotics Directorate, donors, main UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will be participating in the discussions.

Thesis the first of such panels in Kabul, which is expected to facilitate the exchange of information on the issue of poppy eradication.

Acaras representing 95 Afghan and international NGOs currently working in Afghanistan.

Questions & Answers:

Question: What is the UN’s reaction to the arrest of Akbar Agha?

Senior Public Information Officer: We’ve seen the reports in the media, and we’ve seen the comments in the media about the arrest of Akbar Agha. We hope that this will help and facilitate the ongoing investigation that is being done by the Ministry of Interior. We have all confidence in the work that is being done by the Ministry. We hope this will allow the Ministry of Interior’s investigation to reach an early and successful conclusion.

Question: On Thursday the Ministry of Planning announced they were nullifying NGO’s from working in Afghanistan. What is then reaction?

Senior Public Information Officer: We have heard the comments of the Minister, we have read about them in the media. We also heard from the presidential spokesperson, Khalil Ahmad, who said that basically the Minister’s comment is his own opinion. We also found the statement from President Karzai on the 9th of September about NGOs and I will quote and read what he was saying at that time. He said “NGOs have rendered invaluable services to the people of Afghanistan over the years and often under difficult circumstances. Our people will not forget their friends in need. Our people have tremendous appreciation for what NGOs and the humanitarian organizations have done for us”. This should be borne in mind when talking about NGOs in Afghanistan. I would like to remind you on a practical side that the NGOs do undertake a lot of very important activities in this country be it in response to the drought, winterization, and parts of national programmes such as National Solidarity Programmer implemented by NGOs – any disruption in the way they are working in the country would cause considerable hardship to the country. And finally, we also want to reiterate our position on NGO activities. We believe they should be regulated by law in a predictable manner. We believe there should be a framework, and that everyone who is entitled to should be allowed to register within a specific and predictable framework.

Question: The IOM received a letter from the Ministry telling them to stop their activities. Will IOM stop their activities?

Senior Public Information Officer: I don’t want to get into the specifics of any organization. If you want comments from IOM, the best thing to do is to call IOM. We don’t want to get into the specifics, we want to look at this as a general issue.

Question: Has there been or going to be an investigation of human rights violation by the Coalition?

Senior Public Information Officer: There have been things we have read here and there, but we are not investigating this sort of issues. I think when it comes from foreign troops there are people who are talking in the name of foreign troops and I think that is a question that should be addressed to them. I don’t think it should be addressed to us in any case.

Question: So you mean that UNAMA doesn’t work on that end?

Senior Public Information Officer: Our Human Rights colleague [Richard Bennett] is in a better position to answer that question and will answer that question after his briefing.

Question: You mentioned that FAO is involved in DDR. Can you gives more details?

Senior Public Information Officer: They are giving them kits for starting farming jobs and they are giving them some training. Inyo would like more details about that I’ll give you the contact information. But that’s the idea, training and assistance.