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Oshima leaves for Kabul to discuss U.N. relief operations.

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 13 Kyodo

The United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima left for Kabul on Tuesday for talks with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban authorities on U.N. relief operations and the country's deteriorating humanitarian situation, Pakistani and U.N. officials said.

They said that in Kabul, Oshima is due to meet Taliban Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil Mutwakkal and other officials. They will discuss relief operations and humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan.

Oshima is scheduled to fly Wednesday to Faizabad in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan. He is to meet former President Burhanuddin Rabbani and visit U.N. assisted projects in the area.

In 1996, the Taliban overthrew the Rabbani government and took power in Kabul. They control 90% of Afghanistan.

But the U.N. regards Rabbani as Afghanistan's president and his representative occupies the country's U.N. seat.

Oshima was sent to the region by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to assess conditions on the ground following reports of the deteriorating situation in the camps of internally displaced refugees in southwestern Afghanistan.

Officials said Oshima will return to Islamabad on Wednesday and visit Hirat in southwestern Afghanistan the next day. He will meet the provincial governor and visit camps of the internally displaced Afghan refugees.

Oshima met Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar on Monday and is due to address a news conference Friday in Islamabad at the conclusion of his visit to the region.

A severe cold spell has killed 150 displaced people in Afghanistan. They were camping in unusually cold conditions where food, water, clothing and blankets are desperately needed, a U.N. spokesman said last week.

According to U.N. reports, Afghanistan is in the grip of its worst drought in 30 years. Over half the population, or 12 million people, are being affected.

The U.N. agencies are set to meet donors Thursday in an attempt to increase donations and international awareness of the severity of the Afghan crisis.

In the last two years, grain production has fallen by more than half the national requirement, while huge numbers of livestock have been sold or have died due to drought or freezing weather.

Many farmers and nomads have lost their livelihood in a country where at least 80% of the population relies on agriculture.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Feb 19, 2001
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