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Afghanistan: UN reports modest security improvement in Kandahar

Afghanistan: UN reports modest security improvement in Kandahar

Kandahar, a city in the troubled southern region of Afghanistan, has seen modest improvements in its security situation, United Nations relief officials said today.

"The region is accessible from Pakistan as well as from Iran through all key-crossing points," Ariana Yaftali, the spokesperson for the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, told reporters in Islamabad. She cautioned, however, that the road between Kandahar and Kabul "is not recommended for evening travel."

On the education front, both girls and boys have access to school in Kandahar, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), which deployed four teams to the area to assess the situation. Some 5,000 girls and 20,000 boys have enrolled in schools in the area.

"Today, the demand for primary education is greater than what the current educational institutions can provide," observed Ms. Yaftali, stressing the need to rebuild schools, train teachers, and provide educational supplies.

In another development across the border, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said several Afghan refugees have died from fires this week in camps in Pakistan. "Alerted by those tragic events, UNHCR is taking measures to prevent further accidents," said Melita Sunjic.

According to UNHCR, two children were killed and 12 tents completely burned - with another 18 damaged - when fires broke out on 20 January. Nine days later, another fire killed three generations of one family while they were sleeping.

"As a consequence of the first accident, UNHCR had increased the distance between the tents to minimize damage in case of a fire," said the spokesperson. "After this second accident UNCHR experts are examining additional precautionary measures." These include arranging instruction sessions on the use of kerosene burners in the camps and providing sand buckets in each tent to serve as fire extinguishers.