Concerned at humanitarian plight in Afghanistan, Security Council calls for more aid

Concerned at humanitarian plight in Afghanistan, Security Council calls for more aid

Council President Wang Yingfan of China
Members of the United Nations Security Council today urged the international community to provide assistance to Afghanistan, a country ravaged by the twin scourges of war and drought.

"The members are very much concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and call on the international community to continue with the generous donations," the Council President, Ambassador Wang Yingfan of China, told reporters following a closed-door meeting on the issue.

The members also stressed the need to ensure the safety of personnel providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and the smooth conduct of relief activities there, according to Ambassador Wang.

Commenting on a recent report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the effect of sanctions on the humanitarian situation, the members noted its "important conclusion" that the impact has been limited, Ambassador Wang said. He also underscored the report's conclusion that "the primary cause of human suffering in the country is the ongoing conflict."

During its closed consultations, the Council was briefed on Afghanistan by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kenzo Oshima.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today released the results of a survey showing that the vast majority of Afghans returning to their country in the last year and a half went back to their home villages.

Afghan family on the move

According to the survey, only 7 per cent of the recent returnees interviewed by UNHCR did not return to their home areas, mainly because they found work elsewhere inside Afghanistan, while others found their land affected by mines or discovered that it was seriously damaged by drought.

"It is a good sign that a majority of the Afghans returned to their own homes and villages, but the situation inside Afghanistan continues to be critical," said Ahmed Said Farah, UNHCR chief of mission in the country. "Access to services like health care and education is very limited among the people we interviewed, as well as for Afghans living in more remote regions."