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Deputy Secretary-General reviews UN work in Afghanistan

Deputy Secretary-General reviews UN work in Afghanistan

Louise Fréchette
The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Fréchette, today began a three-day visit to Afghanistan aimed at reviewing the world body's work in cooperation with the country's authorities.

"We have very much the future peace and prosperity of Afghanistan at heart and I want to make sure that all UN people are doing their very best to help and support the people of Afghanistan," she said on her arrival.

Ms. Fréchette was briefed on the latest developments in the country by the UN team as well as the Commander of the International Security Force in Afghanistan (ISAF), Hakim Zorlu. In addition, she held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. According to a UN spokesman, the two discussed the country's reconstruction needs and security concerns, as well as the Iraqi situation.

In a subsequent meeting the Deputy Secretary-General and the Afghan Minister of Women's Affairs, Habibeh Sarabi, discussed recent advances made in women's health and education.

Ms. Fréchette also visited de-mining projects and a children's centre in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, on Sunday a UN spokesman in Kabul announced the formation of a "Return Commission" to help refugees and internally displaced people go back to Afghanistan's northern provinces. The announcement came in response to insecure conditions in those areas, where "violent acts, including extortion, stealing of crops and forcible recruitment, often affect the population as a whole rather than Pashtuns alone," said Manoel de Almeida e Silva.

Filippo Grandi, a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), hailed the Commission's establishment, pointing out that all three main factions are represented on that body. "It is important because everybody has agreed to participate," he said, while cautioning against unrealistic expectations. "Solutions will be long to achieve and we have to be extremely patient."