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UNICEF Chief of Emergency Programmes visits Afghanistan

Week-long visit to review agency’s preparedness plans, explore opportunities for programme delivery in insecure areas

KABUL, 15 May 2006 – UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes Daniel Toole arrived in Afghanistan Thursday on a week-long visit to the country, during which he aims to assess UNICEF’s capacity to respond to sudden emergencies and review the organization’s support to programmes in areas of the country still affected by insecurity.

Toole will spend several days in the south of the country, visiting Kandahar and Zabul provinces.  The southern provinces of Afghanistan continue to be affected by security incidents, including a recent spate of attacks against schools.  Toole will be meeting with provincial Governors and community leaders, as well as representatives of the international assistance community, to discuss ways in which the delivery of humanitarian programmes can be assured in a volatile security environment.

Toole will also meet with Government Ministers and colleagues from UN agencies to assess preparedness and response mechanisms for sudden emergencies.  Afghanistan is regularly affected by harsh weather and flooding, as well as occasional earthquakes, and Toole will be discussing ways in which UNICEF can best support Government partners to prepare for sudden crises.  Over the last year, UNICEF has stepped up efforts to ensure that essential emergency supplies are readily available across the country, so that emergency response can be faster and more effective.  This was demonstrated recently following severe flooding in Faryab province, when UNICEF’s pre-positioned family relief kits, school tents and medical supplies were rapidly distributed to affected communities.

Speaking upon his arrival in Kabul, Toole noted that Afghanistan remained a challenging environment for humanitarian actors.  “UNICEF is of course concerned that continuing insecurity in parts of the country could impact upon the delivery of essential programmes for women and children,” he said. “However, I am confident that communities and local leaders can play an important role in ensuring access for all those supporting the development process, and I hope that my visit will provide an opportunity to explore ways in which UNICEF can work more closely with communities to best serve the women and children of Afghanistan.”

Provinces in the south of the country have some of the worst child and maternal indicators in Afghanistan.  Constraints on programme delivery, said Toole, would only increase the disparities between different parts of the country.  “If Afghanistan is to meet its commitments set out under the Afghanistan Compact, its own National Development Strategy and the global Millennium Development Goals, then it is imperative that we are able to reach every child, every mother, in every community,” he said.  “We have to find creative ways, involving the Afghan people themselves, to ensure that no child is left out.”

Toole will be available for media interviews on the evening of Wednesday 17 May, upon his return from Kandahar and Zabul.  Please contact Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Afghanistan spokesperson, on +93 (0)7996 07400 for more details.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Eddie Carwardine, UNICEF Media Afghanistan
Tel.+ 93 799 507 400, Mobile: +93 799 607 400
E-mail:  ecarwardine@unicef.org

Note for editors

Daniel Toole is the Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes for UNICEF, based in New York.  As Director he is responsible for ensuring UNICEF’s global response to both natural and man-made emergencies and disasters.  He is responsible for ensuring the overall coordination of emergency action with other United Nations partners and for the safety and security of UNICEF staff globally.  Toole is current Chair of the UN Framework Team for Early Warning and Preventive Action.  More information can be found at https://www.unicef.org/media/media_24791.html




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