Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan

Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan
Statement of Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri
Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) of Afghan Mission to the United Nations
Commission for Social Development

 Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to begin by thanking the organizers of today’s event, and The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, for moderating our panel. I am pleased to be here today among fellow panellists. The Commission for Social Development is involved with important work and I am pleased to contribute to panel through focusing on the theme, “Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan.”

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is now in the process of reversing decades of economic and social decline from long years of conflict through a series of initiatives with significant assistance from international donors. While efforts are underway to ensure equitable growth and development opportunities for all, there has been a special focus on vulnerable groups and especially people with disabilities. In Afghanistan, one out of every five households has a person with disabilities. While this is only a conservative estimate according to the national sample survey, the actual prevalence of disability could be around 15% considering  the definition of a person with disabilities under the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

This survey indicate that majority of persons with disabilities are in the age under 14 yrs. Among the population of children in Afghanistan, children with disabilities face many challenges and are in a vulnerable situation due to various reasons such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of health and nutritional support apart from prevailing insecure environment. The level of literacy is the lowest among children with disabilities and especially among girls with disabilities. The Survey also pointing out that around 73% of children with disabilities above the age of 6 do not receive education, with the rates of school attendance even lower for girls with disabilities. Economic difficulties and burden on the families to arrange transportation are the main causes for high drop-out rates among children with disabilities.

The constitution of Afghanistan has many enabling articles that promote and protect the rights of the people with disabilities.  In addition to the constitution, the government of Afghanistan has formulated a number of legal frameworks and strategies to empower people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to promote social integration.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Government of Afghanistan has recently passed legislation for persons with disabilities titled ‘Law of Rights and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities’. This Law has been established to provide economic, social, political, cultural, educational, and rehabilitation support for the disabled (men, women and children) to ensure their rights and active participation in society. The law provides 3% reservation of jobs in government and private sector.

The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disability (MOLSAMD) with active cooperation and participation of civil society framed an action plan as a way forward to integrate the economic and social needs of the persons with disabilities within the over- arching framework of the Afghanistan national development strategy and other key national policies.

The following measures have been envisaged for people with disabilities to achieve economic and social integration within the Afghan society;

 

  1. Promoting decent employment for all, including people with disabilities by developing efficient labor market.
  2. Reduce the risk of poverty among people with disabilities through developing social insurance.
  3. Reduce poverty and social exclusion through developing social assistance arrangements.
  4. Strengthening extended network of social care services for the protection of people with disabilities
  5. Enhance awareness about the socio-economic needs of people with disabilities
  6. Strengthening capacity to lead national labor and social protection policy development and implementation.

In order to fulfil its responsibilities both in National and International level to protect and promote the human right values, the government of Afghanistan, apart from the national instruments has joined the  following international conventions and frame works

The following treaties ratified by the government of Afghanistan are enabling people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to join the mainstream of development: Convention on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personal mine and on their destruction; The Convention on Cluster Munitions; UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and Vocational rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention.

There has been substantial work undertaken by the government, UN agencies, international development organizations and the Afghan civil society in establishing economic, social and legal institutional foundations to promote the interest of vulnerable populations which includes people with disabilities as well. Through development and humanitarian work, disability is emerging as a cross-cutting issue in all policy and programme development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation process. The government of Afghanistan has identified the following principal areas of intervention to create enabling environment for people with disabilities: Access to education, especially for girls and women with disabilities; Access to justice; Access to decent and full employment; and Good governance for persons with disabilities.

The Afghanistan relevant institutions will sensitize the officials of the key ministries impacting the lives of people with disabilities to deal with issues related to disability benevolently and with all sensitivity. Disbursement of pensions and other social security benefits will take place in a time frame manner. The Directorate will ensure that grievances related to social security benefits are disposed -off without inordinate delay and within the time stipulated by the government. The proposed disability commission will monitor the process ensuring good governance to persons with disabilities in all the key departments.

The disability movement is largely led by the civil society which is exposed to ‘social and a rights-based model’ of approaching disability. The Disability Stakeholder Group in Afghanistan comprises NGO, INGOs and members from the civil society such as the media who attend monthly meetings and are part of the decision –making process of the ministry regarding all issues related to policies and programmes for people with disabilities. The government will ensure that the disability stakeholders group of Afghanistan is consulted by the UN Country Team in preparing the UN Strategic Framework in accordance with the UN Guidelines.

No single agency can fulfil the needs of people with disabilities alone; all development agencies should include disability as a key component within their efforts. Afghanistan is going through a brisk period of reconstruction and development. It will be the policy of the government to ensure that disability becomes a ‘cross-cutting theme in our agenda. Every effort will be made by the government to include disability within the policies and programmes of agencies such as UN, NGOs, civil societies, donor agencies and other ministries. The proposed National Institute for Persons with Disabilities will have a department for promoting disability policy and advocacy which will specifically focus on mainstreaming disability within the national agenda of all the stakeholders.

I thank you.

High-level interactive briefing on the Challenges in the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking

Statement by  Ahmad Zahir Faqiri Deputy Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to UN

High-level interactive briefing on the Challenges in the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking

 

“The state prevents all types of terrorist activities, cultivation and smuggling

of narcotic drugs and production and consumption of intoxicants.”

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

 

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to the recently created UN System Task Force for Organization of today’s high-level interactive briefing on the Challenges in the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking.

I also would like to commend His Excellency Ambassador Martin Sajdik of Austria and Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico for their commitment and tireless efforts in support of UNOD` s endeavors in the fight against drugs and crime.

My gratitude also equally goes to Mr. Yuri Fedetov, Executive Director of UNODC, Under Secretaries, and other distinguished speakers for their comprehensive remarks.

Mr. Chairman,

Among the many devastating effects of decades of war and insecurity, increased poppy cultivation carries the largest social, political and economic consequences. These threaten to endanger our efforts to rebuild a stable and democratic Afghanistan.

 

Today, Afghans suffer from the dual menace of terrorism and drugs. The deep- rooted nexus between terrorism and the trafficking of illicit narcotic drugs poses a serious threat to stabilization effort.  Terrorist groups in our region are financed in part by the profits from illegal drug activity.

Drugs are not only a threat to the economy and security of my  country, but, have a direct link to terrorism, spreads into the afghan families like cancer and gradually destroys the lives of Afghan people. In those parts of the country where they cultivate poppy, most of the people have been addicted and are gradually losing their lives.

In order to address the Narcotic dilemma the government of Afghanistan launched a comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy based on the four following priority:

Priority One: Disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and their

Backers and eliminating the basis for the trade

Priority Two: Strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods

Priority Three: Reducing the demand for illicit and treatment of problem drug users

Priority Four: Strengthening state institutions both at the centre and in the

Provinces

Unfortunately Afghanistan is the world’s leading supplier of illegal opiates, trafficked as opium, morphine and heroin. There are clear links between the drugs trade and the insurgency. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that the Taliban derive approximately $150m per year from Afghan narcotics. Both the drug traffickers and the Taliban have a common interest in resisting Afghan Government authority and international forces.

Mr. Chairman

The UNODC 2011 Afghan Opium Survey published on 11 October states that opium poppy cultivation rose by 7% compared to 2010.  However, it is important to set this rise against the backdrop of opium prices which have more than doubled in the last year, and an overall fall in cultivation of 36% between 2007 and 2010.  This year there was also a 3% decrease in cultivation in Helmand, the most prolific opium producing province. This third successive annual reduction is evidence to the efforts of the Provincial authority and their comprehensive approach to countering the drugs trade in compliance with the fourth priority of the National Drug Control Strategy.

We all recognises that eradicating opium poppy without developing viable legal livelihoods is not sustainable and would make farmers increasingly vulnerable. A sustainable reduction in opium poppy cultivation requires improvements in the living standards of the rural population, including diversifying income sources, and security, which takes time to achieve completely.

Mr.Chairman

Afghanistan actively seeks to improve its bilateral relations within the region, which have an important role to play supporting Afghanistan’s development into a stable and secure state.  The Afghan government is working to develop strategies for improved regional co-operation, with support from its international partners and institutions.  On 5-6 September 2011, the Ministry for Counter Narcotics hosted the second regional Counter Narcotics Conference in Kabul. This involved the counter narcotics agencies of Tajikistan, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Efforts are being made to improve information-sharing and develop closer working relationships with the neighbors concerning border control and law enforcement agencies; judicial cooperation is another aspect that needs to be strengthened in bilateral relations. Improved cooperation will also result in the disruption of the flow of narcotics (and precursor materials) across Afghanistan’s borders. Afghanistan today is an active participant in UNODC-sponsored meetings and forums such as the Inter-Governmental Technical Committee (IGTC) meeting and the Senior Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO) meetings.

 

It should be highlighted that there are four strong elements been identified on the increasing of Narcotics in Afghanistan:

  • Poverty and deficiency of livelihoods to replace opium,
  • Insecurity and threat pose on  poor Farmers by insurgents and smugglers  ,
  • Precursors which is coming to Afghanistan form outside of the country
  • Demand of international markets and opiates prices,

 

Tackling these four elements requires a decisive, honest and result oriented approach both from Afghanistan and our regional and international partners in combating narcotics. To this end we there is need to intensify our efforts.

 

Thank for your attention

 

 

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan
Delivered by
G. Seddiq Rasuli Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Third Committee
Agenda Item 62:
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his reports under agenda item 62 and his in-depth statement this afternoon.

I further wish to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s gratitude to the High Commissioner and dedicated staff of UNHCR for their commitment towards protection and assistance of the world’s most vulnerable population, the refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in particular, their special attention to the plight of Afghan refugees, returnees, and IDPs. We are grateful for that, Mr. High Commissioner.

Mr. Chairman,

Since 2002, more than 5.6 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan, the vast majority of which have returned from neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan. This is an encouraging sign that the situation in Afghanistan is improving and Afghan refugees can once again return to their homeland and join their families. However, in spite of the progress made over the past ten years, much remains to be accomplished. The pace of repatriation has slowed substantially relative to previous years. This can be attributed to the dual threats of terrorism and insecurity, widespread poverty, and a challenging humanitarian situation. These have also increased the number of IDPs in the provinces that continue to see the highest levels of insecurity.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to providing for the voluntary, dignified and gradual repatriation and re-integration of our Afghan brothers and sisters who fled our boarders due to years of conflict and violence. Already 4.6 million refugees received aid and since 2005 the Afghan Government has constructed 60 townships in 20 provinces for refugees, and a further 39,000 have been provided with portions of land.

As the security situation improves and people gradually return to Afghanistan, the Government faces a significant challenge to provide adequate shelter, work and healthcare, this is becoming an increasing problem as more Afghans return, with the potential for increased refugee flows in the coming years as Afghanistan becomes more stable and secure. The Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to do all we can to provide facilities for voluntary, dignified, and gradual repatriation.

Mr. Chairman,

We must not forget that security challenges and threats still remain a reality in Afghanistan and this poses a serious challenge to the sustainable repatriation of refugees. Between June 2009 and September 2010 alone 12,000 people were displaced as a result of insecurity, bringing the total number to over 319,000 Afghan citizens. We must continue our efforts with our international partners to secure Afghanistan for its citizens both inside and outside its borders.

As a result of this continued insecurity we face a reality in which 40% of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan have not been settled yet, where people are trying to return to their homeland seeking a prosperous future only to be faced with despair with the situation and return to their respective countries of refuge. We must work with the international community and UNHCR to seek out new ways and mechanisms to review our returnee’s policy to find a way to provide shelter and easy access to primary services including health care education drinking water and importantly, work opportunities to ensure the sustainable repatriation of Afghans.

Mr. Chairman,

I would also like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Afghanistan to our neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran for being the primary hosts of Afghan refugees for more than 30 years now; we are grateful for that. We have held constructive trilateral meetings with Iran and Pakistan along with UNHCR in May this year recognizing the need to find a comprehensive solution for sustainable voluntary, gradual, dignified repatriation of refugees.

In this regard, Afghanistan, with UNHCR, Pakistan and Iran, is presently developing a multi-year (2012-2014) solutions strategy for Afghan refugees. This strategy will be presented for endorsement by the international community at a stakeholders conference in early 2012.

I thank you Mr. Chairman.