Afghanistan Annan names deputy envoy Brahimi visits quake area

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today named French national Jean Arnault as his Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.Mr. Arnault, whose appointment took effect immediately, succeeds Francesc Vendrell, who retired from the UN at the end of January.Working out of Kabul, Mr. Arnault will act as Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi’s deputy responsible for political matters. He will be the head of the political pillar of the UN mission in Afghanistan, while Nigel Fisher heads the humanitarian and developmental pillar.Over the course of his diplomatic career, Mr. Arnault served previously as the Secretary-General’s Representative for Burundi from June 2000 to August 2001, and as Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for the UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) from 1997-2000.Meanwhile, Mr. Brahimi, accompanied by Interim Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials, visited the earthquake-affected province of Samangan in the north of the country.Speaking to the press following the visit, Mr. Brahimi urged assistance to the victims of the disaster. “We have seen people who are extremely dignified – extremely poor, affected – but standing up and looking to the future,” he said. “They need a lot of help.” read more

Afghanistan provides three fourths of worlds illicit opium UN reports

Bernard Frahi, a senior official from the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), told journalists in Kabul today that Afghanistan was the place of origin of 70 to 90 percent of the heroin found in European markets as well as the source of almost 100 per cent of the opiates – opium and its derivates, morphine and heroin – consumed in Iran, Pakistan, the central Asian States and the Russian Federation. He made his remarks on the eve of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking and the release of an ODCCP report on the illicit drug trade.The number of opiate users in that area was roughly estimated to be 3.5 million to 4 million, including 2 million in Russia, he added.Mr. Frahi noted that since the start of the year the Afghan administration has taken measures to eradicate poppy production in key provinces.”It has been a remarkable step at the initial stage to impose a rule of law,” he said in response to a question on the effectiveness of the steps. “Though the measure was unpopular, it has proved to be an important step to demonstrate to the population that there is a decree and that they have to comply with it.” read more