The top United Nations refugee official heads this weekend to Afghanistan, a country devastated by an active conflict, massive displacement of population, major human rights abuses, drought, a looming famine and an economy in shambles.
In light of the "appalling and deteriorating" humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council this afternoon expressed shock at the expected resumption of large-scale fighting there.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that millions of poor Afghans are facing the spectre of another low harvest because of seed and water shortages which have left some 40 per cent of the country's normally cultivated land fallow.
Afghanistan, already facing a "humanitarian crisis of alarming proportions," could see increased fighting during the summer months, coinciding with the country's "hungry season," according to a new report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's envoy to Afghanistan today concluded a two-day visit to Kazakhstan where he discussed with the country's top officials ways of moving towards a comprehensive political settlement of the Afghan conflict.
The warring factions in Afghanistan have agreed to respect a ceasefire for three days starting tomorrow to allow a United Nations polio immunization effort to go forward, according to the Islamabad-based UN Coordinator for the country.
Recent assessment missions by the Office of the United Nations Coordinator for Afghanistan have documented an "alarmingly high" number of infant deaths due to disease in the northeastern part of the country, an area plagued by drought and conflict.
The situation in western Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as summer approaches, with about 1,000 people leaving their homes each day to escape drought, conflict, or both, according to a statement issued today by the Office of the United Nations Coordinator for Afghanistan.