High Commissioner travels to Afghanistan
High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers leaves today for a five-day mission to Afghanistan, his second trip to the country this year. He arrives in Kabul tomorrow, where he plans to meet President Karzai and other officials in the Transitional Authority.
On Monday Mr. Lubbers leaves for Kandahar, where he will look at the situation facing displaced Afghans in the south and the different solutions required to help the government resolve that problem. There are more than 400,000 displaced persons in southern Afghanistan, a region that has suffered the effects of a persistent drought for some four years, and seen the arrival of thousands of ethnic Pashtuns fleeing isolated attacks in some parts of the north of the country. Mr. Lubbers will visit Spin Boldak, where some 30,000 displaced Afghans are sheltered in four windswept camps perched on the border with Pakistan. He will also visit Zhare Dasht, a newly opened interim camp west of Kandahar that currently shelters some 1,800 Afghans recently relocated from one of the squalid border sites pending their eventual return to their home areas.
Before returning to Geneva on Wednesday, Mr. Lubbers will spend two days in Kabul meeting with Special Representative of the Secretary-General Lakhdar Brahimi and other senior UN officials. He will also consult with UNHCR's staff on the repatriation operation that has so far assisted more than 1.5 million Afghans to return and review our goals for 2003.