A United Nations Security Council mission is heading to Afghanistan to show support for the reconstruction process there and to check on its progress, according to the delegation's chairman, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany.
Mr. Pleuger told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York before the group's departure Friday that the visit will "signal to the government and to the Afghanistan citizens the continuing international community's commitment to the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan, and by that signal also to promote further international and regional support."
The 15-member group, with one representative from each country now sitting on the Security Council, will visit Kabul and three other cities, returning 7 November.
Mr. Pleuger said the mission would also "encourage the interim government in Kabul to further strengthen the implementation of the Bonn agreement."
An international conference in 2001 in Bonn, Germany, set the guidelines for the interim government, and for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Mr. Pleuger said the group would "review the humanitarian and human rights situation, particular with regards to women, children and refugees and internally displaced persons," and assess the status of the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.
He said the mission would also "encourage the government to implement, in particular, gender issues into all aspects of policy making because that is one of the legacies of the Taliban regime; that is, by neglecting gender issues, and by neglecting the education and integration of women into society, this is not only a distortion of human rights it is also a waste of talent and human resources."
Also, Mr. Pleuger said, "We want to convey a strong message to regional and factional leaders about the need to support the implementation of the Bonn process and to work constructively with the central government in Kabul because otherwise we will never achieve the necessary security environment to achieve what we want to see next year and that is elections in mid 2004."
He said the group would also try "to get information about the situation about counter-narcotic efforts," because drugs were a growing problem in Afghanistan. "It is also a problem that is of great detrimental effect on the rebuilding of the society in Afghanistan."
Video of press briefing
Listen to UN Radio report