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Afghanistan: UN Supports 'Domestic' Solution To Crisis, Cooperation In Aid Efforts

  • Nikola Krastev

The UN Secretary-General's special envoy to Afghanistan said yesterday that only a "home-grown" solution could resolve the political situation in Afghanistan. The remarks came as the UN Security Council urged Afghanistan's neighbors to step up cooperation with the UN in responding to the Afghan refugee crisis. Council members also demanded that the Taliban stop preventing aid from reaching the Afghan people and threatening the safety of aid workers.

United Nations, 24 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, said yesterday (23 October) that only a "home-grown" solution could bring peace and stability to the country.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with members of the Security Council, Brahimi -- who reports to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- said he is looking forward to talking with all sides involved in the Afghan conflict as he heads to the area this weekend.

"I am looking forward to an opportunity to talk directly to as many Afghan parties as possible, because -- and this has come [across] very strongly in the discussions with the [Security] Council -- what we need in terms of political dispensation for Afghanistan is a genuinely home-grown Afghan arrangement. Nobody wants an arrangement that is imposed on Afghanistan. The Afghans would not accept it and the international community, I think, understands that. And we in the UN will definitely not be party to anything like that."

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the Permanent Representative of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the UN, told reporters that Brahimi has the unanimous support of the Security Council. He said the UN will be the leader in international efforts to bring Afghanistan back to normalcy.

"The international community is now committing itself to the long-term future and economic stability of Afghanistan, as well as a new political structure that will serve that. And it is going to be a commitment of years -- not just weeks or months -- to the people of Afghanistan, who deserve something different from the failed state that they've had to live with for some years now."

Also yesterday, the UN Security Council yesterday called on neighboring countries to intensify their cooperation with the UN in responding to the Afghanistan refugee crisis. They also demanded that the Taliban stop preventing aid from reaching the Afghan people and threatening the safety and security of aid workers.

In a statement, Council members stressed the importance of ensuring that emergency supplies were delivered to Afghans in need as quickly as possible. They called on the United States to disburse rapidly its $10 million pledge to the UN for its aid efforts, and highlighted the need for the international community to respond financially to the needs of the neighboring host countries.

Fred Eckhard, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Annan, said that according to the reports from the border areas, the plight of Afghan refugees continues to deteriorate: "On the humanitarian front, the World Food Program and UNICEF are bringing supplies to Afghans stranded in the 'no man's land' on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan. WFP started distributing high-protein biscuits [to 6,500 internally displaced people in the Spinboldak area] and reported that the people appear to be tired and in pretty bad shape. Only a third of them had shelter materials with them."

To prepare for the approaching winter, Eckhard said, the WFP is planning to buy 16 snowplows in Tajikistan. The WFP has reached an agreement with both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to guarantee access to the northern areas of Afghanistan throughout the winter, and aims to keep the route from Osh to Ishkashim cleared of snow. The WFP is currently sending 5,000 metric tons of food per month along that route.

Eckhard said the UN relief teams were able to deliver 122 metric tons of supplies to the border areas on 22-23 October. He added that 1,300 metric tons of wheat has been loaded in Peshawar to be sent to the central highlands.

Meanwhile, UNICEF is attempting to pass through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Chaman a five-truck convoy headed for Herat via Kandahar loaded with 100 metric tons of water-supply equipment including hand pumps, PVC pipes, and cement. Eckhard said the supplies are expected to reach Herat by 26 October.