High Commissioner in Afghanistan
After completing his visit to Iran yesterday morning, the High Commissioner arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul yesterday. He is spending most of the first two days of the Afghanistan leg of his three-nation visit seeing for himself how matters are progressing for returnees in the field. Yesterday, he visited the big centre on the edge of Kabul where refugees returning to, or via, the Kabul region first go upon arriving back in their homeland to receive their travel grant, medical checks and mine awareness training. This centre is currently receiving more than one thousand returnees a day. Today, the High Commissioner is visiting returnee areas on the Shomali plain north of Kabul. Shomali, which was one of the most fertile and prosperous areas of the country in peaceful times, was utterly devastated during the Taliban period. Tens of thousand of returnees have gone back there and are having to rebuild their homes and livelihoods from scratch with the help of aid and development agencies. Starting tomorrow, the High Commissioner will be meeting with President Karzai and five of his Ministers. He will also be holding discussions with the Commander of ISAF, various Ambassadors, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and other UN colleagues, as well as with some of the many NGOs working in the capital. On Sunday Mr. Lubbers departs for Pakistan, on the final leg of his mission - the sixth he has made to the region in under three years.