Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance: special economic assistance to individual countries or regions : Emergency assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation in Tajikistan

I. Introduction

1.         The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 51/30 J of 5 May 1997. In that resolution, expressing its deep concern at the impact of the conflict on the humanitarian situation and on the social and economic infrastructure of Tajikistan, the General Assembly urged the Government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to continue their efforts to solve the conflict peacefully.

2.         The General Assembly also deplored the deterioration in the security situation, condemning terrorist acts and other acts of violence in Tajikistan, and called upon the parties to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other international humanitarian personnel.

3.         The General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to monitor the humanitarian situation in Tajikistan and report to it at its fifty-second session on the progress made in the implementation of resolution 51/30 J. The present report covers the period from the adoption of the resolution to mid-August 1997.

II.  Background to the situation in Tajikistan

4.         Tajikistan descended into civil war in 1992, shortly after the dissolution of the former USSR. By mid-1993, in a country of less than 6 million persons, an estimated 50,000 people had been killed, some 600,000 had been displaced internally and an additional 60,000 had crossed the border into Afghanistan. Many others fled to neighbouring Central Asian republics, as well as other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). However, there are no reliable figures on the number of refugees, many of whom might be more appropriately classified as economic migrants.

5.         By mid-1995, the majority of internally displaced persons and refugees from Afghanistan returned to their pre-war homes, with support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations. Aid organizations consequently focused attention on rendering humanitarian assistance to a broader category of beneficiaries and vulnerable groups, whose livelihoods were threatened by the virtual collapse of social services and widespread unemployment. Agencies also provided short-term rehabilitation opportunities for communities most affected by the civil war.

6.         On 27 June 1997, after three years of inter-Tajik talks on national reconciliation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan and the leader of UTO signed the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan. The Agreement established a transitional period of between 12 to 18 months for the implementation of all the provisions of the General Agreement.

7.         The General Agreement consists of several protocols, addressing such issues as amnesty and mutual forgiveness, the repatriation and reintegration of refugees, demobilization, and the reintegration of opposition fighters, as well as the reform of government power structures, the legalization of political parties, the liberalization of mass media and other democratization activities. The Commission on National Reconciliation (CNR) will be the principal mechanism for implementing the peace agreement. CNR met at Moscow in early July 1997 and at Dushanbe on 15 September 1997.

8.         Despite sporadic fighting in some parts of the country and at the Tajik-Afghan border, the ceasefire has by and large been holding since early December 1996. However, frequent security incidents and an increase in common criminality affecting both local populations and international personnel are worrisome trends. A sudden deterioration in the security situation close to Dushanbe and in the southern and western parts of the country in early August 1997, the result of differences between various government forces, temporarily disrupted both humanitarian and development activities and restricted movement to the southern region.

9.         Nevertheless, by mid-July 1997 there was a resumption of the voluntary repatriation of Tajik refugees from northern Afghanistan, with most refugees returning to the districts of Bohktar, Vakhsh, Pianj, Kumsangir, Shaartuz and Kolkhozabad in the southern region of Khatlon.

10.       The President of Tajikistan and the Leader of the Opposition jointly appealed to the United Nations to organize a donors' conference to facilitate the mobilization of assistance from the international community for the implementation of the specific protocols of the agreement during the transition period. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Tajikistan, together with the United Nations Resident Coordinator and an in-country team, comprising United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and representatives from other international organizations, is planning to convene such a meeting in autumn 1997, at which a document requesting international support for peace and reconciliation activities in Tajikistan will be presented to donor Governments.

III. Humanitarian assistance

11.       Despite the successful conclusion of the inter-Tajik talks and efforts by the Government to allocate limited resources to returning refugees and displaced persons, the economic situation remains bleak, and essential social services are largely dysfunctional, making a large percentage of the population extremely vulnerable. The most affected are people with no purchasing power - for example, the elderly, female heads of households, families with many children, the institutionalized and the sick - who have been made highly dependent on external assistance. The provision of humanitarian assistance, in tandem with accelerated rehabilitation and development activities, is essential in the short to medium-term period to stem further deterioration in the overall health and nutritional status. It is also crucial as a stabilizing factor along the path towards peace and reconciliation.

12.       The United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Donor Alert, which requested US$ 22 million to cover urgent humanitarian needs for vulnerable groups in Tajikistan for the period December 1996 to May 1997, was extended until the end of August 1997. That extension was made necessary by a combination of factors, including the late arrival of pledges, security constraints obliging United Nations agency programme suspension and the relocation of international United Nations agency staff for the period February to April 1997, and the resulting delay in implementation of many programmes, particularly in the health and agricultural sectors. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and several international organizations were able, however, to continue providing relief assistance to vulnerable categories throughout the country during that period, and increased their response in their respective areas of expertise.

13.       Some 78 per cent of the Donor Alert was funded as of the end of September 1997. Most of the assistance was pledged to cover World Food Programme (WFP) food aid requirements, including more than US$ 5 million received by WFP from the European Union in response to its initial request of approximately US$ 4.5 million. As of mid-August 1997, an additional amount of US$ 13.7 million has been channelled through the ICRC, IFRC and other non-governmental organizations. Given the evolving situation and the resumption of repatriation, UNHCR issued an appeal in early August totalling US$ 9.7 million to cover the cost of the return and initial reintegration of some 25,000 refugees, mostly from northern Afghanistan, over the following 18 months. The current Donor Alert has been updated to include additional humanitarian requirements for vulnerable groups, other than returnees, and has been extended until the end of 1997. In view of the continuing serious humanitarian needs in the country, the preparation of a consolidated inter-agency appeal for humanitarian assistance to Tajikistan for a period of 12 months beginning in January 1998 is also envisaged. The humanitarian programme, extending much needed assistance to the most vulnerable segments of the population, would also supplement international efforts to support peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan.

A. Implementation of humanitarian programmes

1.       Internally displaced persons

14.       During the second half of 1996, armed conflict intensified in the Garm and Tavildara regions, east of Dushanbe, leading to a second wave of internally displaced persons, who fled mainly to Dushanbe. ICRC played a major role in providing relief assistance to those people. In April 1997, given the general improvement in the situation in and around Garm and Tavildara, they began to return home spontaneously. In addition, the Government of Tajikistan organized four bus convoys transporting some 2,000 internally displaced persons back to the Tavildara area in July and August, and assisted in the return of approximately 2,600 displaced from Darvaz and Sagirdasht, whose return had been previously prevented, reportedly due to mined roads along the Kaburobad Pass. For economic or other reasons, any remaining displaced persons in Dushanbe from the Tavildara area are unlikely to return to their home province.

15.       During the period May through July 1997, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized the successful return home of some 1,900 displaced persons who had sought refuge in the semi-autonomous region of Gorno Badakshan since the outbreak of the civil war. The principal area of return was Dushanbe. Relief and protection assistance was provided by ICRC and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Other displaced persons who fled to Gorno Badakshan in 1992-1993 have chosen to remain there either for economic or family reasons.

2.       Voluntary repatriation

16.       After a five-month suspension and as a result of the signing of the peace agreement, UNHCR resumed its voluntary repatriation operation on 17 July 1997. As of 10 August 1997, over 2,000 Tajik refugees from Kunduz and Takhar province in northern Afghanistan have been repatriated to districts in the southern province of Khatlon through the Nijni Pianj crossing point. It is hoped that current security and logistics constraints will be overcome in the near future, thereby enabling repatriation of refugees in Sakhi camp near Mazar-I-Sharif to restart through the second crossing point, by road and rail through Hairoton, Afghanistan and Termez, Uzbekistan. UNHCR plans to organize the voluntary repatriation of about 10,000 refugees in 1997 and 15,000 refugees in 1998. It is estimated that 75-80 per cent of the returnees will be women and children under the age of 15. It should be noted that there are another 15,000 Tajik refugees registered in Kyrgyzstan, as well as a large number of Tajik refugees in the Russian Federation, among them 40,000 in the Novosibirsk area alone.

17.       Once the refugees return to their villages of origin in Tajikistan, UNHCR, together with other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, will provide them with opportunities to earn income as well as with assistance in reconstructing destroyed houses and repairing basic community infrastructure through quick impact projects.

3.       Food aid

18.       WFP estimates that about 900,000 people in Tajikistan, or close to 16 per cent of the population, require food aid in 1997. The WFP programme covers a total of 482,000 people in the country, and will also take into account the Tajik refugees who are expected to return from Afghanistan. Other agencies, such as the Aga Khan Foundation, CARE International, German Agro Action, IFRC, Mercy Corps International and Save the Children, will cover the food aid needs of the remaining caseload of 420,000 people.

19.       Apart from general feeding programmes for the old, handicapped, orphans and unemployed, WFP and non-governmental organizations are encouraging projects promoting the rehabilitation of agricultural land and infrastructure through food-for-work interventions, including clearing irrigation canals, school rehabilitation and pilot forestry schemes. The majority of the overall food aid is being directed to vulnerable groups, mostly women and children, in Khatlon and Gorno Badakshan.

20.       WFP estimates the total minimum food aid requirement for Tajikistan in 1997 at 74,000 tons, of which it expects to mobilize, deliver and distribute about 36,000 tons in 1997, with the European Union, ICRC and international non-governmental organizations providing the balance. WFP and other food aid agencies distributed approximately 25,000 tons in the first six months of 1997.

21.       Preliminary results from the European Community Humanitarian Office food vulnerability survey, carried out in June 1997 in conjunction with WFP, German Agro Action and IFRC, indicate that food aid will continue to be required well into 1998. Efforts by agencies are ongoing to standardize and put in place a better classification of beneficiary categories and criteria for receiving food aid, as well as a more extensive monitoring system.

4. Health

22.       The overall health situation is discouraging. The number of children who die before age one from acute respiratory infections and diarrhoeal disease in Tajikistan is over 3,000 per year (two thirds of all infant deaths), with anaemia being a contributing factor for both mother and child. In terms of preventable mortality, those diseases constitute the most serious problem. The spread of other diseases, such as typhoid and malaria, is serious and increasing. Tuberculosis is on the increase, iodine deficiency disorders are common and cardiovascular disease is a major cause of adult mortality. Due to drastically deteriorating standards of living, such diseases as scabies are common.

23.       In general, the national health system in Tajikistan is suffering from a lack of supplies, maintenance, adequate local diagnostic and treatment services, trained personnel and modern methods. International assistance has partially offset the lack of certain drugs, but to date little assistance has addressed the need for rehabilitating physical infrastructures. The problem is compounded by the fact that medical and health personnel receive insufficient salaries or none at all. Many health workers have therefore left the country or found alternative income opportunities.

24.       The Ministry of Health is implementing several national programmes supported by WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), supplemented by interventions by international organizations, such as ICRC, IFRC, Medical Emergency Relief International, Médecins sans frontières, Pharmaciens sans frontières, Relief International and Save the Children.

25.       The World Health Organization (WHO) Medium Term Programme is focusing on the following priority areas: health-care reforms, including financing and training; control of communicable diseases, with special emphasis on control of tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid and diphtheria, and family planning. In June 1997, thanks to adequate funding, WHO was able to commence a one-year emergency programme to control malaria and typhoid. Apart from providing relevant medical supplies, the focus of the programme is on standardizing treatment protocols and training health personnel.

26.       The typhoid epidemic which broke out at Dushanbe in January 1997 and spread to other towns throughout the country, causing over 20,000 patients to be hospitalized by mid-July 1997 and over 130 deaths, has been the major focus for response, necessitating a clear division of labour between assisting international organizations. The German Agency for Technical Assistance and IFRC have focused on water treatment, an extensive public information campaign and distribution of non-medical hospital items, while Medical Emergency Relief International, Médecins sans frontières and Pharmaciens sans frontières have provided appropriate drugs and assistance in treatment. WHO held two typhoid seminars at Dushanbe and Kuliab in June and July 1997. Missions from the United States Centers for Disease Control at Atlanta have assisted with situation analysis and provided recommendations for improving Dushanbe's water supply and preventing further contamination. UNICEF has played a supporting role.

27.       Implementation of the malaria project has suffered setbacks and been delayed, but the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development and Medical Emergency Relief International are active on both the preventive and curative side in an effort to combat the increase of malaria cases in the most affected districts of Khatlon province.

28.       The Ministry of Health, together with UNICEF, is implementing a national programme to combat acute respiratory disease and diarrhoeal infections, with training and information components and drug provisions. UNICEF is also developing a national nutrition programme, covering both anaemia and iodine disorders. All externally supplied flour is to be fortified with iron, and all women of childbearing age and children between 6 and 24 months of age will receive iron tablet supplements. Iodine and sprayers will be provided by UNICEF before the end of 1997 through its salt iodization programme.

29.       The return of refugees from northern Afghanistan will create an additional caseload, and will strain further the already fragile local health structures. Although some medical assistance is being provided to refugees at the transit centre upon arrival, including vaccination, the emphasis is on ensuring that all returnees are registered and covered by local health facilities in their area of return and their health situation monitored.

30.       During the period April to August 1997, due to changes in the regulations, international organizations experienced many difficulties with the registration, importation and clearance of humanitarian medical supplies, which hampered the smooth and effective delivery of medicines to central hospitals and local health facilities. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, efforts are under way to improve procedures for importing humanitarian drugs and supplies, as well as to bring current Tajik regulations in line with international standards.

5.       Water supply and sanitation

31.       Since the civil war, the majority of water towers throughout the country have fallen into disrepair or have been destroyed, piped water systems have not been maintained and pumping stations are operating at a fraction of their capacity. Chlorination of water in major towns has been sporadic, and frequent contamination occurs, mainly in areas with piped water. Spring floods compound the problem by flooding the sewage systems as well as the drinking water systems, which leads to massive contamination. Repeated outbreaks have been seen in 1996 and 1997 at Dushanbe, Kuliab and other parts of the country, with the regular occurrence of typhoid.

32.       There are urgent needs for large-scale water and sanitation programmes throughout the country, with the technical approach appropriately adapted to each geographical area. However, to date lack of funding has only allowed for small-scale selected interventions. During the period of major repatriation between 1993 and 1995, several projects provided latrines to areas of concentration of returnees, as well as hand pumps and some repair to deep-well water-supply systems for communities. Since 1995, UNICEF has concentrated on providing water through hand pumps or sand filters to selected schools and institutions, mostly in Khatlon province, and on hygiene education through community participation.

33.       In April 1997, in an effort to combat the typhoid epidemic, IFRC, in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Assistance, started an emergency water-supply project at Dushanbe, which included chlorination, some repair work and a countrywide public information campaign about water usage and conservation. In June 1997, Medical Emergency Relief International started a six-month hyper-chlorination project at Kuliab. Also at Kuliab, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) continued to provide support to a longer-term project to rehabilitate one part of the city's water-supply system.

6.       Education

34.       Problems besetting the education sector are very similar to the health sector. The lack of building maintenance, infrequent payment of salaries, and lack of school books and other equipment have lead to a reduction in the numbers of teachers and students who attend school. School days have been shortened, and due to lack of resources the classes are given in two or three shifts, with meals or snacks normally no longer provided. Attendance is particularly low during winter due to lack of heating, warm clothes and shoes.

35.       Schools in most parts of Tajikistan today are surviving on money given by parents or communities, and many buildings are maintained by community members. In some districts, such as Starre Marcha, community land normally leased to users is used free of charge by health and education workers. In some southern areas, WFP is promoting more extensive use and sharing of land belonging to schools. Such agencies as Save the Children, Orphan and Relief Assistance International and Mercy Corps International are also providing food and other relief items to schools and/or orphanages. In addition, the Aga Khan Foundation is providing extensive assistance at all levels of the education sector throughout Gorno Badakshan province.

36.       During the winter of 1996-1997, IFRC and some non-governmental organizations provided support, such as fuel for heating or shoes and clothing, to encourage schools to continue working, and UNICEF provided notebooks and pens to selected areas. Funds received in spring 1997 from several donors have enabled UNICEF to start printing school books for the four primary classes to be delivered in the summer of 1997, but stronger donor support for school heating and the provision of school books, stationery, kits and equipment is essential for the continuation of those efforts and, indeed, for the schools to remain open at all.

37.       The problem of street children, as well as of increased numbers of children selling products in the market, working as porters or car cleaners, is growing. Most of those children are still living at home, and some are even still studying part time, but others are real orphans, having escaped orphanages with few or no resources, and are in serious need of help. In June, Save the Children Fund, in collaboration with Avicen, started projects to identify the most desperate groups of children at Dushanbe and find solutions to avoid that tragic form of child labour for family survival. UNICEF is advocating with concerned ministries for increased understanding of the problem and allocation of maximum resources to affected families.

7.       Agriculture

38.       Agriculture is the leading sector in the Tajik economy, accounting for about 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employing about 40 per cent of the labour force. Under the previous centralized system, the sector specialized in producing cotton, fruit and vegetables for export to other parts of the former USSR, and depended on allocated imports for a large proportion of its basic food supplies, with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables. Imports of food have fallen very sharply in recent years.

39.       Tajikistan is a mountainous country and arable land is scarce. Land remains the property of the State but is gradually being released for private production on long-term land leases. The land reform law permits leases of up to 100 years, with inheritance rights, but does not allow agricultural land to be bought or sold. Cotton growing still predominates on state and collective farms, but increasing proportions of cereals are evident in the private sector. Livestock farming and fruit and vegetable production are predominantly undertaken on small private household plots. Investment in the agricultural sector, as elsewhere, has been very limited in recent years. In order to avoid further deterioration of the food security situation, the Government has allocated additional land to cereal production at the expense of cotton in recent years. In 1997, the area was increased further, and if the projected favourable weather conditions hold, the 1997 wheat harvest is expected to be good.

40.       Rural development efforts are aimed at making more irrigated land available to private farmers on lease terms, assuring security of land tenure and demonopolization of the upstream and downstream sectors, providing inputs and marketing to agriculture.

41.       In 1996, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided emergency technical assistance for locust control. Funding was secured for FAO projects geared to providing agricultural inputs for the spring 1997 planting season, including the supply of up to 580 tons of Elite class A seed potatoes and related inputs. But implementation of those projects was suspended due to a sudden deterioration in the security situation, and it is now envisaged that the project will be implemented during autumn 1997.

42.       FAO is currently striving to resume and expand its programme in the country. Under the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme, a one-year project entitled "Coordination of emergency agricultural relief and recovery intervention" was launched in June 1997. The project aims to develop, coordinate and implement strategies that address immediate emergency agricultural needs and support efforts to create conditions conducive to recovery and sustained development.

8.       Mine action

43.       Subsequent to the inter-agency assessment mission to Tajikistan in October 1996, which, inter alia, recommended the establishment of a mine action centre at Dushanbe, security constraints and a lack of funding combined to hinder any progress in developing that proposal. Given the change in situation and the momentum provided by the peace agreement, a two-person team from the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat visited Tajikistan from 11 to 21 July 1997 to re-evaluate the extent of the mine problem, hold discussions with all relevant parties and conduct field visits. At the same time, mine awareness courses were offered to United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), United Nations and non-governmental organization personnel.

44.       The team concluded that although there is a mine problem in Tajikistan, it is not on a scale comparable to such countries as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia or Mozambique. The humanitarian impact is fairly small and confined to the central part of the country. Nonetheless, a central information system to collect and monitor data related to landmines is required immediately, and UNMOT will be the focal point for gathering mine information as part of their normal observer activities.

B.    Coordination of humanitarian assistance

45.       Overall coordination of humanitarian assistance activities in Tajikistan is the responsibility of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, who is supported by a Field Coordination Unit of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs which was re-established at Dushanbe in January 1997. The Unit is an integral part of the United Nations coordination structure, which includes all United Nations agencies operating in Tajikistan, as well as the full consultative participation of the International Organization for Migration, ICRC, OSCE and international non-governmental organizations. It is envisaged that the Unit will remain in the coordination structure when the Resident Coordinator also becomes the Deputy Special Representative under the new arrangement proposed in the Secretary-General's latest report to the Security Council on Tajikistan (S/1997/686).

46.       Regular inter-agency meetings between United Nations agencies, ICRC, IFRC, non-governmental organizations, donors and bilateral representatives are convened at Dushanbe to discuss policy, planning and operational arrangements. At the field level, efforts are being made to strengthen inter-agency cooperation and complementary planning through monthly coordination meetings in the main operational areas, such as Kurghan-Teppe, Shartuz and Khorog. Bi-weekly or monthly sectoral meetings covering food aid, agriculture, human rights and education are also held at Dushanbe.

47.       Coordination among non-governmental organizations is strong and a mechanism exists by which two non-governmental organization representatives are elected to represent the non-governmental organization community at United Nations inter-agency meetings. Coordination between the Government and international organizations is carried out through regular contacts between agencies and their government counterparts. That has been further strengthened in 1997 by the increased involvement of the Government's Aid Coordination Unit, which answers to the Prime Minister and is responsible for monitoring all commitments and disbursements of international assistance to Tajikistan.

IV. Rehabilitation and development cooperation

48.       Since the commencement of its activities in Tajikistan in 1994, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close collaboration with the World Bank, has provided operational as well as institutional support to the Government to enhance national capacity for the successful absorption, analysis and planning of international assistance. That approach has aimed to build self-reliance, public trust and accountability for reconciliation and sustainable development, and to ensure a smooth transfer from relief activities to rehabilitation and development assistance. With programme resources of approximately US$ 6 million committed over the years 1994, 1995 and 1996, UNDP has provided assistance to the Office of the Prime Minister for external resource management, community-based rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, promotion of confidence-building measures, women in development, governance, and the Central Asian transit transport initiative (see para. 53 below).

49.       More recently, with the signing of the General Agreement on Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan, UNDP, in collaboration with the international community in the country, has initiated efforts that will guide the programming of international assistance to support the immediate medium and long-term requirements of the country. That initiative focuses on partnerships and alliances between and among nationals and the international community, with the aim of bringing coherence to the planning, programming, financing and implementation of international support for peace, reconciliation and development cooperation in Tajikistan.

50.       UNDP has placed emphasis on strengthening the capacity of institutions at both the community and national levels, initiating activities that support rehabilitation and maintenance of viable structures, systems and services. In mid-1996, UNDP initiated a rehabilitation, reconstruction and development programme that targets rural populations, concentrating on activities that restore basic infrastructure and stimulate economic activity to build up local capacities, both public and private. To date, the programme has established sub-offices in three regions (Garm, Kuliab and Shaartuz), implementing multisectoral sub-projects totalling US$ 1.5 million. In December 1996, activities in the Garm sub-office were suspended when fighting broke out between opposition and Government forces, and activities in the remaining two sub-offices were subsequently suspended in February 1997, when all United Nations international personnel were relocated from the country for nearly three months. Upon the return of United Nations personnel in May 1997, operations in all three sub-offices resumed.

51.       UNDP, working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, together with the Ministries of Culture and Education, initiated a community-based peace and confidence-building measures project that focused on the promotion of peace-building by providing support to sporting, cultural and educational activities that bring together different regions, ethnic groups and communities. The project has concentrated its activities in the war-damaged West Khatlon and Shaartuz regions, establishing some 60 community centres that implement grass-roots initiatives in rehabilitation, peace-building, training, income-generating and community service activities. Though security risks remain, the project has successfully promoted social and economic stability in the regions of previous conflict, and has been effective in advancing community understanding of peace and reconciliation.

52.       Through its women in development (WID) project, UNDP has provided specific funding for activities that benefit the lives of women in the Kofarnihon region. Assistance has been provided in support of small enterprise development, micro-credits, agriculture and training. WID, in addition to building national capacity for issues related to gender, is serving as a resource and training centre, helping local women to design, initiate and manage sustainable activities that are having a significant impact on the lives of Tajik women.

53.       In cooperation with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UNDP has funded a regional undertaking with the five Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkemenistan and Uzbekistan to enable the countries to agree on a transit transport framework agreement. The agreement is to comprise the basic principles governing the development and management of transit infrastructure and transport operations, as well as the identification of specific protocols that will need to be elaborated at a later stage in order to provide for arrangements and day-to-day procedures for its implementation. Given that the five Central Asian Republics are landlocked, in search of world markets and in need of developing new transport corridors to improve trade performance, UNDP is providing support to the Government of Tajikistan to pave the way for a modern system of transit procedures and ensure adherence to international customs conventions that simplify border crossings among the five Central Asian Countries, resulting in reduced transport costs, increased competitiveness, expanded trade potential and augmented economic growth.

54.       UNDP, in its responsibilities to the resident coordinator system, continues to lead the process of programme design, formulation and implementation of international assistance in Tajikistan. With programme resources of US$ 14 million to be allocated over the next three years (1997-1999), UNDP, in consultation with the Government, the United Nations system, Bretton Woods institutions and other international organizations, including non-governmental organizations, aspires to develop an integrated, well-coordinated strategy for international assistance to support peace, reconciliation and development cooperation in Tajikistan.

V.   Concluding observations

55.       In the wake of the successful conclusion of the inter-Tajik talks, the focus of international assistanceefforts has shifted to providing support for peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan during the crucial first 12 to 18 months after the signing of the peace accords. Such support is essential for the smooth implementation of the protocols in the General Agreement and for shifting programmes towards more sustainable development activities in a longer-term framework.

56.       The restoration of basic services and infrastructure is a major challenge, and will require large-scale support from the international community, as well as renewed commitment by the Government of Tajikistan to allocate the necessary resources to the implementation of the peace agreement.

57.       However, the humanitarian situation in Tajikistan remains precarious, and there is a clear need to continue humanitarian programmes to ensure the subsistence of the most vulnerable segments of the population. Humanitarian assistance also has an important role to play in international efforts to support peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan.

58.       The current United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Donor Alert has been updated and extended through December 1997. The updated Donor Alert will be presented in conjunction with the document "International support to peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan", which is to be presented to an international conference on Tajikistan in autumn 1997.

59.       The current humanitarian situation in Tajikistan points to continuing humanitarian needs in the near future. For that purpose, a full-scale consolidated inter-agency appeal for humanitarian assistance for a period of 12 months beginning in January 1998 is envisaged.

60.       The Secretary-General wishes to thank the international donor community for their generous support of humanitarian assistance programmes in Tajikistan. Adequate quantities of food stocks, medical supplies and other relief items will be critical, however, during the winter months. The Secretary-General calls upon the international donor community to continue to provide generous voluntary contributions in support of humanitarian assistance and development programmes in Tajikistan.

61.       The Secretary-General wishes to express profound appreciation for the work that the men and women of the humanitarian organizations are continuing to undertake under difficult circumstances in Tajikistan.

62.       The occurrence of serious security incidents and military activity affecting humanitarian agencies in parts of the county, notably in the Garm and Tavildara areas and Khatlon province, is a major concern. The Secretary-General urges the Government of Tajikistan to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and other international humanitarian personnel.


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