What's In Blue

Posted Wed 16 May 2012

OCHA Briefing in Consultations on Afghanistan

Tomorrow (17 May), the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, is set to brief the Council in consultations on her recent trip to Afghanistan. It is likely that Jan Kubis, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who is in New York on his way to the NATO Summit in Chicago, will be present as well – although he will not be briefing. It also seems that Amos may answer questions on other situations, such as Syria and Sudan/South Sudan.

It appears that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested the meeting to inform the Council of Amos’s visit to Afghanistan, from 8 to 11 May. The purpose of her trip, in her words, was “to see for myself the level and severity of needs that exist in Afghanistan today and to remind everyone that there are on-going humanitarian needs in the country.” While in Afghanistan, Amos met with Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili. In addition to witnessing the “shocking conditions” of one of the dozens of informal settlements in Kabul, Amos met internally displaced families and also visited the Balkh province in the north of the country. There she saw the impact that riverbank erosion and other natural disasters were having on local communities.

It seems likely that Amos will reiterate and expand upon many of the points made in her 15 May statement to the press. In that statement, she cited statistics indicating that over one-third of Afghanistan’s people have suffered displacement, either as refugees (who have returned or are still living abroad) or as internally displaced persons. She also said that the conditions of women should be a major element of development efforts in the country. Amos is also likely to emphasise that security, a major concern in Afghanistan, does not only include “physical security”, but also addresses critical aspects of human development such as education, healthcare, and the rule of law, all of which are greatly needed in the country.

During tomorrow’s consultations, Amos is expected to again urge support for the 2012 Consolidated Appeal for Afghanistan, which has a goal of raising $437 million. (The appeal is designed to meet the humanitarian needs of those affected by natural disasters and conflict in Afghanistan.) To date, only 27 percent of the appeal’s goal has been reached.

Council members appear to be widely receptive to having Amos brief on her trip to Afghanistan. Consistent with UNAMA’s mandate, there is broad recognition in the Council that strengthening development, the rule of law and women’s rights should be supported as effectively as possible.

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