UN Security Council

Islamic Republic News Agency
March 27, 2002

The United Nations Security Council Tuesday held a day-long discussion on the situation in Afghanistan as it focussed on the latest report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan outlining the concept for a future UN presence in the country, reported the UN Information Center here in a press release Wednesday.

In presenting Annan's report at the outset of the council's debate, which was chaired by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette noted that the large number of non-council members participating in the meeting was an encouraging sign of "the continuing interest and support of the international community in helping the Afghans rebuild their society."

Detailing aspects of Annan's report, the deputy secretary-general said at UN Headquarters in New York that the proposed UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) was based on two pillars--one for structure and one for relief and assistance, noted the press release.

"Human rights will be central to the purpose and functions of the new mission, both as it fulfills the provisions of the Bonn Agreement directly related to human rights and as it seeks to fully integrate human rights into its humanitarian, reconstruction and political activities, including the rule of law and national capacity building," it further said. As for recent developments in the country, both the Afghan Interim Administration and the UN had made education a key priority, the deputy secretary-general said.

According to the UN press release, last Saturday, which was the first day of the school year, had been a major step towards getting children back to school with 1.5 million students able to return. Supplies by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to schools around the country had provided materials for both students and teachers, it continued.

"The increased rainfall had also left many farmers optimistic about their next crops after three years of drought," the report quoted Frechette as saying. That optimism had been reflected in a spontaneous population movement especially among internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of who had started to return home, it noted.

An average of 10,000 refugees per day crossed from neighboring Pakistan into Afghanistan, it went on to say, adding that to address thw flow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would open more registration centers in the next few weeks. Frechette pointed out that even as UN agencies were gearing up to meet the challenges, they were also becoming increasingly alarmed by the slow pace of funding.

"Almost a month ago, in Kabul, we presented the Immediate and Transitional Assistance programme for this year, spelling out requirements of US dollars 1.18 billion," she said. The press release also quoted her as saying, "We now urgently need to convert the generous pledges already made into actual contributions."

The deputy secretary-general also noted that while the security situation in Afghanistan had apparently improved somewhat over the past few weeks, there had been further incidents in some areas, including reports that Taliban elements were regrouping in southern Paktia for a guerrilla campaign against the interim administration, it pointed out. "The concerns about security expressed in the Secretary-General's report remain all too pertinent," Frechette said, warning against complacency.

Representatives of close to 30 countries, including all 15 members of the council, took part in the debates, the statement adding that on Wednesday the council is scheduled to continue deliberations on the report in closed consultations.



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