Asia Pacific

9,000 Afghans return from Pakistan in March in UN repatriation programme

Nearly 9,000 Afghan refugees have gone home in the first month of the final year of the United Nations-assisted repatriation programme from Pakistan, citing jobs and shelter as key factors influencing their decision in an operation that is expected to cover some 400,000 by the end of 2006.

Annan calls on Cambodia to continue to cooperate with human rights officials

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Cambodia’s Government to continue to cooperate with UN human rights officials in the Asian country, expressing concern at reported remarks that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had denounced them.

Urgent action needed to break male dominance in Thai Government – UN report

Thai women face major prejudice in politics and stark under-representation in the upper tiers of the Government, according to a United Nations-backed report launched today that sets out a raft of concrete recommendations for speeding progress in reducing gender disparities, including the use of quotas.

UN food agency welcomes first Russian donation to abate hunger in Tajikistan

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the receipt of a pioneering contribution of $6 million worth of wheat from Russia to the agency’s relief and recovery operation in Tajikistan.

UN agency calls for fishing boats in tsunami-affected countries to be safer

Thousands of fishing boats built to replace those destroyed by the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 must meet minimum safety standards, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, as it again urged authorities to ensure such standards were adhered to and warned that inferior boatbuilding was undermining the tsunami recovery effort.

Afghan convert to Christianity requests asylum, UN mission says

An Afghan charged with converting from Islam to Christianity in a court case that threatened to strain the war-torn country’s relations with the international community has asked for asylum in another country, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported today.

Annan says it is ‘crucial’ that UN Côte d’Ivoire mission gets more troops, police

In the run-up to October’s elections in divided Côte d’Ivoire, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has repeated his call that almost 4,000 extra troops and police be sent to the UN mission there, saying they were “crucial” both to shore up the fledgling peace process and to prevent an already precarious security situation from getting worse and spreading to neighbouring Liberia.

Former US President Bush, UN envoy, helps plan Pakistan quake recovery

The United Nations Special Envoy for the South Asia Earthquake, former United States President George H. W. Bush, met with United Nations officials today on the launch of the recovery phase in areas of Pakistan devastated by the October 2005 disaster, which killed more than 73,000 people, injured nearly 70,000 and left millions homeless.

Afghanistan: UNICEF official calls for special focus on girls’ education

With a women’s literacy rate of just 14 per cent in Afghanistan, a senior United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official has called on all Afghan families to give priority to education for the sake of long-term progress, with a special focus on girls who have either been prevented or discouraged from attending school.

UN envoy deeply concerned over Afghan charged for converting to Christianity

The top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan today voiced “great concern” for an Afghan apparently charged in court for converting from Islam to Christianity in a case that could strain the war-torn country’s relations with the international community.