Political humanitarian progress in Afghanistan very encouraging Security Council told

“Security remains a major challenge in many parts of the country, and substantial financial assistance is still required,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said this morning in his briefing to the Council, the latest in a series covering ongoing developments in Afghanistan.”I appeal to the international community to speed up the delivery of its assistance, and to broaden its scope to include unmet needs related to security,” he added.On the political front, Mr. Prendergast said Afghanistan’s emergency Loya Jirga – or tribal council – would comprise some 1,500 delegates, including approximately 1,000 elected indirectly by the people and 500 selected by the Independent Loya Jirga Commission. Given the logistical difficulties, the security environment and the extremely short time frame, even indirect elections presented a great challenge, he said, though phase one of the process had successfully begun on schedule.Some results were particularly heartening to those who hoped to see a multi-ethnic, representative Government in Afghanistan, Mr. Prendergast noted, referring to the fact that Pashtuns had been chosen in areas where they were in a minority, and that at least one woman had already been selected. He added that the Independent Commission itself would select 160 women, although there was no limit on the number of women who might be elected.Amid those signs of hope, a series of violent incidents – including a failed attempt to assassinate the Minister of Defence and a rocket attack on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – had heightened security concerns, Mr. Prendergast said. Afghanistan’s Interim Administration had taken some actions, though its capabilities were limited, to respond to the deterioration of the security situation.Speaking at the outset of the discussion, Sima Samar, Vice-Chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and Minister for Women, told the Council that women’s rights were particularly jeopardized by the absence of security. Women continued to fear violence and worry about the imposition of Taliban-like restrictions. Unless more security was provided, she stressed, the inclusion of women in the Loya Jirga may be undermined, and the distribution of identification cards to enable their participation in future elections imperilled. read more

Rebels take Bukavu in eastern DR of Congo protesters target UN

The town was effectively being controlled by General Laurent Nkunda of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Goma (RCD-Goma) and the former deputy regional military commander Colonel Jules Mutebutsi, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.Some other RCD-Goma leaders had joined the DRC’s multi-factional Transitional Government, along with leading members of the former Kinshasa government, the Mayi-Mayi militias, the Mouvement de liberation du Congo, RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de liberation, and RCD-National.UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on “all parties concerned to put an immediate end to the hostilities and abide by the cease-fire,” Mr. Eckhard said.”The Secretary-General encourages the Transitional Government to address the issue in a consensual manner and reaffirms MONUC’s availability to assist in this regard,” he said.After listening to a briefing on the situation by the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Security Council president for June, Ambassador Lauro Baja of the Philippines, said the Council condemned the violence and the violation of human rights accompanying it.The Council also condemned “the incitement of hatred, especially against members of the local community, in particular those aimed at the Banyamulenge,” he said. Some 2,000 people crossed the border to Cyangugu, in south-western Rwanda, last week, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They have been identified as mainly Congolese Tutsi, also known as Banyamulenge,About 1,060 MONUC troops are stationed in the town, MONUC spokesman Hamadoun Toure said, noting that the parties had signed the 1999 Lusaka Accord and the 2002 Global and Inclusive Accord. Negotiations were now going on to re-establish the cease-fire and restore calm in Bukavu, he said.In the fighting, the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) warehouse was looted and the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were attacked, Mr. Eckhard said.In other parts of the DRC, demonstrators in Kisangani and the national capital, Kinshasa, expressed anger over the rebel taking of Bukavu, he said. In Kisangani, a UN building and vehicle were set on fire and the vehicle’s driver was missing, while in Kinshasa, two UN vehicles were set on fire.UNHCR said that for the first time in days 50 people fled to south-western Rwanda today. The agency has reinforced its staff at the Nyagatare transit centre in the area to deal with the influx of refugees. read more

UN mission condemns attack on female Afghan senator and family

Ms. Khairzad and her family were reportedly ambushed on the main highway in the province of Ghazni, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.They were heading to her home province of Nimroz in the country’s south to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.“We condemn this attack in itself, but what makes it worse is that it took place on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, a time of peace and goodwill,” said the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and acting head of UNAMA, Nicholas Haysom. UNAMA extended its condolences for those killed in the attack and wished a speedy recovery for Ms. Khairzad and her surviving family members.