The United Nations chief envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, was set to leave New York today on his way to the region for a series of high-level consultations on the future of the war-torn country, UN officials said on Friday.
As Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, Mr. Brahimi will begin his talks on Monday in Pakistan, where he will remain for most of the week before travelling to Iran.
According to a UN spokesman in Islamabad, after his visits to Pakistan and Iran, Mr. Brahimi might have to go back to New York around the start of the top-level debate in the UN General Assembly in mid-November, but he would later want to visit all States neighbouring Afghanistan.
On the humanitarian front, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, who has been travelling around the region in recent days, met today with the President and Foreign Minister of Tajikistan. Afterwards he reported that the Dushanbe Government was highly supportive of UN efforts to provide assistance to Afghanistan and would simplify administrative procedures and facilitate the use of Tajik facilities.
Meanwhile, UN humanitarian agencies continued their push to aid needy Afghans. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it has gained access to the no-man's land between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, where some 6,000 Afghan children are among a group stranded there since last October. The agency is immunizing the children and furnishing relief supplies.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that its Kandahar office and an adjacent warehouse had been looted. "For some time, we've been aware that Taliban soldiers have been holding meetings in our Kandahar regional office, and people arriving from Kandahar have spoken of seeing some of UNHCR's nine vehicles being driven around town by armed men," said agency spokesman Peter Kessler. "While we are trying to recheck this report of looting with other sources, it is very worrisome and indicative of the collapse of law and order in the country."
Echoing these concerns, Francesco Luna, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said its office in Mazar-I-Sharif had reportedly been occupied by armed individuals.