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Afghanistan: UN appeal, critical funding shortfall

Afghanistan: UN food agency renews appeal to fill critical funding shortfall

Facing a shortfall of more than a third in requested aid for Afghanistan, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has renewed its urgent appeal to donors to come up with “critical” additional funding to finance its activities for the rest of the year.

“Without new donations, WFP will be forced to cancel plans to pre-position 40,000 tons of food ahead of Afghanistan’s winter months,” United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Kabul, the capital, today.

“This will leave many of the most remote and food insecure communities in northern, north-eastern, central, western and southern provinces without assistance until spring,” he added, noting that WFP needs $25 million to make up for a shortfall of 39,000 tons out of a total requirement of 110,000 tons until the end of the year.

In another development, 30 June marked the completion of the final phase of the $141-million Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme in the war-torn country, a government-led process supported by UNAMA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) through the Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP).

Overall, 63,380 formers members of the Afghan Military Forces were disarmed, with 259 units decommissioned. Almost 56,000 people took and completed one of the reintegration training options. One of the problems was continuing close bonds between former commanders and their soldiers. Attention during the reintegration phase therefore focused to a considerable degree on these commanders.

Although DDR ends now, disarmament has to be sustainable and efforts in that area are ongoing on a number of fronts, Mr. Edwards said, citing the programme to disband illegal armed groups and ANBP’s services to women and children from ex-combatant families. Almost 25,000 women have received or are scheduled to benefit from additional education and income generation opportunities.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that the adult literacy programme it launched earlier this year in western Afghanistan is now being expanded into the three eastern provinces of Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar. Over 5,600 women will benefit from literacy classes across the three provinces.

To date over 27,000 people have already enrolled and it is hoped that the programme will reach over 160,000 adults across Afghanistan this year, the majority of them women. With adult literacy rates estimated at just 43 percent, and just 14 per cent for women, the “programme is vital for improving social and economic circumstances for thousands of families,” Mr. Edwards said.

There are an estimated 8 million illiterate adults in Afghanistan. The joint programme has set itself the goal of increasing literacy levels by 50 per cent over the next three years.

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