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

Job creation around agriculture can spur youth employment in Africa – UN

“Countries need to promote a rural and structural transformation that fosters synergies between farm and non-farm activities and that reinforces” the linkages between rural areas and cities, José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told a regional conference on employment being held from 19 to 23 February in Khartoum, Sudan.FAO Regional Conference for Africa primarily focuses on the theme of creating decent and attractive employment in the world’s “youngest” continent in terms of the average age of its population.Estimates suggest that up to 12 million new jobs will have to be created every year to absorb new labour market entrants over the next 20 years. Today some 54 per cent of Africa’s work force relies on the agricultural sector for livelihoods, income and employment, especially in family farming.With more people moving to cities, demand on urban food markets will grow, which in turn can generate job opportunities in all agriculture-related activities. But FAO believes that more must be done to create non-agricultural employment in rural areas, including agro-tourism and other services.“More than ever, strategic partnerships are needed to bring together the African Union, the African Development Bank and the UN system and other development partners,” Mr. Graziano da Silva said.He warned however that more profitable urban markets can lead to a concentration of food production in large commercial farms, and also the creation of value chains dominated by large processors and retailers.“In this contest, smallholders and family farmers need specific policies and regulations. This includes providing access to inputs, credit and technology and improving land tenure,” he added, stressing how social protection programmes, including cash transfers can link public food purchase to family farmer’s production. read more