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Brahimi heads to Kabul - Aid Routes Opened

Afghanistan: Brahimi heads to Kabul for meetings with political leaders

10 December - Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, will head to Kabul tomorrow for meetings with key political leaders, a United Nations spokesman announced today.

In Kabul, Mr. Brahimi is expected to hold talks with Burhanuddin Rabbani, Mohammad Yunus Qanooni and Abdullah Abdullah, according to spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva. "He also hopes to meet with Hamid Karzai, designated head of the interim administration," the spokesman told reporters in New York.

The UN envoy arrived in Islamabad today following a meeting on Sunday in Rome with the former Afghan King, Mohammed Zaher Shah, and the Italian Foreign Minister, Renato Ruggiero.

"During his meeting with the former King, Mr. Brahimi discussed the transfer of power - which according to the Bonn Agreement is due to take place on 22 December 2001 - the convening of an emergency Loya Jirga and his visit to Kabul," said Mr. de Almeida e Silva.

While in Rome, Mr. Brahimi told the press that the King was "satisfied" with the Bonn agreement. "I think he and us, and I believe the rest of the world, are looking forward to how this is going to be translated on the ground," he said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General, in a report on the situation in Afghanistan released today, said the events of 11 September had made it easier to realize international objectives for Afghanistan. "The international community's renewed focus on Afghanistan after years of neglect, and the realization that a military campaign to root out terrorism from Afghanistan required a simultaneous political process leading to the formation of a legitimate Afghan government, offer renewed hope to the Afghan people that they may at last get the kind of government to which they have long aspired."

"The challenge that faces us now is to speed up the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Afghans, to help chart a path that will lead to a stable and unified Afghanistan and rebuild a country shattered by over two decades of war," the report states.

*****


UN welcomes opening of new aid supply routes to Afghanistan

10 December - The United Nations refugee agency today hailed the opening of new supply routes to Afghanistan, where millions of people desperately need relief aid.

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) welcomed the recent opening of the Friendship Bridge linking Uzbekistan to Afghanistan, as well as the Nijni Pyandj - Shirkhan Bandar River crossing between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. "These added supply routes should boost the delivery of aid to internally displaced Afghans in the northern and western parts of the country," Fatoumata Kaba told the press in Islamabad.

The spokesperson also called for a quick resolution of the conflict in southern and eastern Afghanistan to allow distribution of humanitarian assistance there. "Instability in the two regions makes it virtually impossible for any humanitarian organization to access the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons," Kaba said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP) said the security situation in Mazar-i-Sharif and other areas in the north should make it easier to reach people in that region, which is known as the "hunger belt."

"Working with NGOs [non-governmental organizations], WFP is trying to provide food aid to over 350,000 internally displaced persons in the northern provinces," said spokesman Khaled Mansour. "Day after day, we have been able to reach more of them," he added, noting that over the weekend, the agency had sent 437 tonnes of food to Kunduz province. "When security risks become reasonable, we take them and move in," he said.

ENDS

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