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Kandahar photo exhibit celebrates Afghan professionals

KANDAHAR, 26 November 2015 – The work of a group of Afghan professionals was celebrated at a photographic exhibition in Kandahar today as part of events marking UN70.

Some 30 people, including Afghan civil society members, journalists and United Nations officials, attended the exhibit, along with students from Kandahar’s Wesa Academy.

In a speech to commemorate the event, Simon Hermes, representing the UN family in Afghanistan, talked about the partnership between the UN and Afghanistan, and the work of the world organization in the southern province and the wider region.

Mr. Hermes, who is head of the Kandahar regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the UN family has been working in Kandahar, and across the broader region, to provide many services to the Afghan people, including humanitarian relief and support for human rights.

He also identified many challenges ahead. “In this region alone, we’ve seen a surge in destructive conflict,” he said, stressing that the world body will work in partnership with Afghanistan for as long as it is needed.

“I want to take the opportunity to affirm that the United Nations will continue to assist Afghanistan for as long as is needed to accomplish the aspirations of the Afghan people, a stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” said Mr. Hermes.

Mr. Hermes accompanied the journalists and civil society representatives, and talked about each of the photos with the students and others in attendance. The Wesa Academy students showed great interest in the exhibit, posing many questions about the work of the Afghan professionals depicted in the photographs.

The exhibition features a collection of specially commissioned panoramic photos measuring four metres wide. Each photo contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved health care, de-mining, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

The touring UN70 exhibition has drawn audiences of government officials, diplomats and community leaders in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Herat.

Billboards celebrating the UN’s 70th anniversary – including messages about key work done by the UN family in Afghanistan – have gone up in Kandahar, following their initial release in Kabul and other cities around Afghanistan.

The nine panoramic photographs featured in the exhibition, along with the profiles of the outstanding professionals whose work is depicted in them, are available on UNAfghanistan.org.

UN70 event in Kandahar celebrates enduring partnership with Afghans

KANDAHAR, 25 November 2015 – Government leaders, civil society representatives and community elders joined with United Nations officials in Kandahar to celebrate the enduring Afghan-UN partnership.

Abdul Ali Shamsi, the Deputy Governor of the southern province, and Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, spoke at the event, the centrepiece of which was a photography exhibition highlighting the work and achievements of a group of Afghan professionals.

“We are proud to celebrate 70 years of the UN’s existence with our friends, our partners, our close collaborators,” said Mr. Yamamoto, who spoke about the work of the organization in Kandahar and the current challenges facing the world body and its partners in the region.

“Afghanistan, especially, is a case in which we can both record achievements but in which we must face serious challenges ahead,” said the UN envoy.

“Some of our staff and colleagues, to whom I pay tribute today, paid the highest sacrifice,” said Mr. Yamamoto. “Here I pay homage to our fallen colleague Toorpeki Ulfat who was murdered in this city last month.”

Mr. Yamamoto accompanied the Deputy Governor during the exhibition, talking about each of the photographs that display the work of Afghans making a difference for the future of the country.

“The question arose for us how best to celebrate the special relationship between the United Nations and Afghanistan, and how best to celebrate the ideals which drive the organization,” said Mr. Yamamoto. “We have decided, instead of listing the achievements of the United Nations, to focus on the work of a group of Afghan citizens.”

It is their work, said the UN envoy, that best represents the ideals of the United Nations. Mr. Yamamoto explained that the Afghan professionals were selected for the exhibit not only because they represent the diversity of Afghanistan, but also because they represent the full range of activities in which the United Nations has been engaged.

“Whether it is the protection of human rights, the preservation of cultural heritage, promotion of the environment, mobilization of youth, promotion of educational opportunity, or in creating safer conditions for communities to live, by, for example, clearing landmines – their work is a credit to them and to Afghanistan,” said Mr. Yamamoto.

Mr. Shamsi spoke at length about the positive contributions the United Nations has been making in Afghanistan, and in particular in Kandahar and the southern region of the country through various projects and programmes, from improving education and healthcare to making drinking water potable and helping eradicate landmines.

He also talked about the UN’s work with refugees and in helping to improve the security situation across the province.

“The activities and projects of the United Nations are admirable in Kandahar,” he said, noting that the region continues to need the assistance of the world body, especially in agriculture, higher education, healthcare and development, and also in peace and security.

“We must protect the achievements that the UN and the government have made over the past 14 years,” he stressed, expressing appreciation to those who have helped work to improve the lives of the people of Kandahar.

Around 60 people attended the event, which brought together a series of specially commissioned panoramic photographs. Each photo – measuring four metres wide – contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved healthcare, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

The touring UN70 exhibition has drawn audiences of government officials, diplomats and community leaders in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Herat. Billboards celebrating the UN’s 70th anniversary – including messages about key work done by the UN family in Afghanistan – have gone up in Kandahar, following their initial release in Kabul and other cities around Afghanistan.

The nine panoramic photographs featured in the exhibition, along with the profiles of the outstanding professionals whose work is depicted in them, are available for viewing on UNAfghanistan.org.

Herat UN70 event celebrates Afghan professionals

HERAT, 19 November 2015 – The extraordinary work of a group of Afghan professionals was celebrated at a photographic exhibition in Herat today as part of events marking UN70.

Around 80 people, including Afghan journalists, members of civil society, diplomats and United Nations officials attended the exhibition.

Dominic Medley, representing the UN family in Afghanistan, and Abul Qadir Rahimi, Head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission spoke about the partnership between the UN and Afghanistan. They were joined by Habib Noori, a cultural heritage director and one of the Afghan professionals featured in the photography exhibition.

Mr. Rahimi said that the UN has been working in Afghanistan for decades during which time it has provided many good services to the Afghan people, including humanitarian relief, support for human rights and preservation of historical sites.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which Afghanistan voted for in 1948 along with 47 other countries – has had a valuable effect on the promotion and spread of human rights principle all over the world, said Mr. Rahimi.

The exhibition features a collection of specially commissioned panoramic photographs measuring 4 metres wide. Each photo (which can be viewed on unafghanistan.org) contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved health care, de-mining, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

The showing in Herat follows similar exhibitions, attended by hundreds of people, held in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.

UN70 anniversary event in Herat celebrates strong Afghan partnership

HERAT, 18 November 2015 – Herat’s Governor lauded the United Nations at a reception to celebrate the world organization’s enduring partnership with Afghanistan.

An audience of around 60 people, including members of Parliament and the Provincial Council, government representatives, civil society representatives and United Nations officials, gathered at the UN70 event Herat.

Mohammad Asef Rahimi, the Governor of Herat Province and Mark Bowden, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan addressed the guests.

“There are serious challenges around the world and the UN plays an extraordinary role in helping tackle them,” said Mr. Rahimi, who noted that the people of Afghanistan appreciate the services delivered by the UN.

The Governor recalled the 1990s, when Kabul was under siege and the UN provided vital services, while when the Taliban were in power, the UN was the only international authority to negotiate for women to get access to health and other services.

“As the governor of Herat I’d like to appreciate and recognize the good services of the UN in the areas of peace, security and good governance in Herat,” said Mr. Rahimi.

“Afghanistan is still facing deep challenges [but] the people of Afghanistan are committed to overcome the challenges to have a country that is peaceful and in peace with its neighbors.”

Mr. Bowden said that Afghanistan has been a full, active and vibrant member of the United Nations, including being one of only 48 countries to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The Deputy Special Representative said that the UN has been in Afghanistan for over 60 years and “will stay for many more years if that’s what is needed to accomplish the aspirations of the Afghan people, a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

The centerpiece of the reception was the UN70 photography exhibition that spotlights the work and achievements of a group of Afghan professionals who the UN has work with or supported.

One of the Afghan professionals featured in the exhibition – cultural heritage director Habib Noori – also addressed the audience.

Mr. Noori is Director of the Afghanistan Cultural Heritage Consulting Organization, an NGO focused on preserving Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage for future generations.

“We try to raise awareness of the importance of preserving history: we need to protect the history and culture of our ancestors,” said Mr. Noori, whose organization receives input from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on work to preserve the country’s heritage. Mr. Noori previously worked with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The touring UN70 exhibition, which was earlier shown in in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad, brings together a series of specially commissioned panoramic photographs. Each of the giant photos – measuring 4 metres wide – contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved healthcare, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

Special UN70 radio series on Afghan professionals wraps up this week

KABUL, 17 November 2015 – The fourth and last in a series of special ‘Afghanistan Emrooz’ radio programmes, which are part of the United Nations’ 70th anniversary celebrations, is to be broadcast across Afghanistan this week.

Broadcast in Dari and Pashto, the programme features Afghan professionals who are making positive contributions in support of a stronger Afghanistan.

The professionals in this week’s episode cover the areas of cultural heritage and protection of the environment: Habib Noori is Director of the Afghanistan Cultural Heritage Consulting Organization (ACHCO), while Kobra and Naikbakht are park rangers at Bamyan’s Band-e-Amir National Park.

Mr. Noori heads an NGO focused on preserving Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage for future generations. With particular emphasis on the restoration of historic monuments, one of his most recent restoration projects is the magnificent 15th century Shahzada Abdullah mausoleum in Herat.

“We try to raise awareness of the importance of preserving history: we need to protect the history and culture of our ancestors,” said Mr. Noori.

ACHCO is not directly supported by the UN but does receive input from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on work to preserve the country’s heritage.

Protection of the environment is another important challenge for the country. Afghanistan’s first women park rangers are working to protect the environment and country’s areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Kobra and Naikbakht, along with two other woman rangers, have worked in Band-e-Amir National Park for the Wildlife Conservation Society over the past two years. Their work is supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other organizations.

The rangers guide and inform tourists, educating them and raising awareness among the local community about conservation and wildlife protection.

UN70 anniversary event in Jalalabad marks strong Afghan partnership

JALALABAD, 12 November 2015 – Afghan political leaders and civil society representatives joined with United Nations officials in Jalalabad on the occasion of the UN’s 70 anniversary to mark the strong and enduring partnership between Afghanistan and the UN.

Salim Khan Kunduzi, the Governor of Nangarhar Province, and Heran Song, the Head of UNAMA’s regional office in Jalalabad, addressed an audience of around 60 guests.

“In the eastern region there is a harmony and coordination between the departments and UN agencies. We don’t separate ourselves from the UN, we are members of the same family,” said Mr. Kunduzi.

He cited the example of humanitarian assistance given to people affected by the recent earthquake and to displaced families, noting also support for rehabilitation and development in the region.

“We are a member of the UN and here in Nangarhar we are working as one family with strong communication and coordination towards achieving  one common goal: A prosperous Afghanistan with acceptable standards of life where children go to school and live in a peaceful environment,” said Mr. Kunduzi.

Ms. Song noted that Afghanistan has been a full, active and vibrant member of the UN since the beginning of the world body and that the UN has been in Afghanistan for over 60 years.

The centerpiece of the reception was the UN70 photography exhibition that spotlights the work and achievements of a group of Afghan professionals who the UN has work with or supported.

During the event, civil society representatives especially highlighted the successful UN support to an active civil society, along with helping to improve the situation of human rights and gender mainstreaming in the eastern region.

The touring UN70 exhibition, which was earlier shown in in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, brought together a series of specially commissioned panoramic photographs. Each of the giant photos – measuring 4 metres wide – contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved healthcare, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

UN70 edition of UN Afghanistan Quarterly available now

KABUL, 11 November 2015 – A special edition of the UN Afghanistan Quarterly, focusing on the UN’s partnership with the country is now available online.

The eight-page newspaper provides coverage of UN70 events in Afghanistan and around the globe, spotlighting Afghans who the UN has worked with or assisted in building a strong Afghanistan.

Dari and Pashto versions will be available soon.

Read the English version of the UN Afghanistan Quarterly.

Radio Kunduz among 20 stations to broadcast UN70 programmes

KABUL, 10 November 2015 – Radio Kunduz is one of 20 radio stations around the country to be broadcasting special ‘Afghanistan Emrooz’ radio programmes as part of the United Nations’ 70th anniversary celebrations.

To be broadcast in Dari and Pashto, the third programme in the series this week features two Afghan professionals who are making positive contributions in support of a stronger Afghanistan: youth leader for returnees, Mohammad Dad and owner of the Nangarhar Agricultural Company, Ghulam Nabi.

Mr. Dad founded the Chonghar-Morghgeeran Youth Association (CMYA) in 2012 with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The association, which is based in Paghman, Kabul province, provides a range of services in 15 villages that help returnees, particularly young people, to be reintegrated into society.

CMYA has supported more than 1,200 returnees with education, health services and vocational training in areas such as tailoring, carpentry and greenhouse food production. With the help of UNHCR, they built the first school for girls in the region. The association also promotes awareness across the community about the rights of girls and women.

“Our aim is to coordinate with elders and villagers, and find solutions for problems as we did for education [which] is important for our future,” said Mr. Dad.

Food security is another significant challenge facing Afghanistan. Mr. Nabi’s agricultural enterprise, near Jalalabad, improves the quality of seeds and aims to contribute to food security.

“I am trying to … take the country towards self-sufficiency and help the poor to be nourished,” said Mr. Nabi.

Benefiting from technical and material support from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Mr. Nabi’s enterprise has produced seeds that increase yield by more than 30 per cent.

“FAO provided us with new machines and training on how to use improved seeds. They built huge stores for us, supported visits to the countryside and promoted the use of improved seeds,“ said Mr. Nabi.

Mr. Nabi works closely with local farmers to track the performance of seeds and to ensure the best are identified, reproduced and used in the food chain.

  • Mazar event celebrates Afghan professionals

Mazar event celebrates Afghan professionals

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, 5 November 2015 – The extraordinary work of a group of Afghan professionals, assisted by the United Nations, was marked at a photographic exhibition in Mazar-e-Sharif today.

Around 100 people, including students, representatives of civil society, journalists and UN agency officials attended the exhibition, which featured a collection of specially commissioned panoramic photographs measuring 4 metres wide.

Each of the nine photos contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved health care, de-mining, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

The exhibition, which was the subject of a reception in the city a day earlier, was jointly unveiled by Shakiba Bagramwal, Dean of the Law College at Balkh University, and Nahid Abuakar, Head of regional office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Mazar-e-Sharif.

In a speech at the event, Ms. Bagramwal said Afghanistan has faced many challenges that the UN has provided support in overcoming. “The UN’s positive and fruitful interventions have prevented deterioration of the situation in the country,” she said.

Two of the Afghan professionals featured in the photos – polio vaccination coordinator Rahima Ahmadi and women’s rights activist Magheferat Samimi – also addressed the audience.

Mrs. Ahmadi has dedicated much of her life to seeing Afghanistan polio-free. For the past 15 years she has worked in the Child Promotion Unit of the Provincial Health Department, with the World Health Organization (WHO), to carry out the country’s polio vaccination programme.

Mrs. Ahmadi and her team visit home-by-home, street-by-street, to ensure all children are immunized: “As a mother I never want to see a child paralyzed in her mother’s arms … We can prevent this disease with just two drops of polio vaccine.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund works with WHO and the Afghan authorities in the polio vaccination drive.

Mrs. Samimi is a tireless human rights activist, especially in the field of protecting women against violence and assisting survivors of violence.

As Head of the Afghan Human Rights Organization in Jowzjan, Sari-Pul and Faryab, she reports on and intervenes in a broad range of rights issues, and is widely respected for her work as a mediator.

Her work on women’s rights includes forced and underage marriage, sexual abuse, abductions, imprisonment, torture, murder and suicide: “Our duty is to serve oppressed people, women included, who experience violence … We always help the oppressed.”

Along with viewing the exhibition, participants also took part in a quiz about UN history and work.

Following a showing in Kabul and now Mazar-e-Sharif, the photographic exhibition is scheduled to move to three other cities around Afghanistan.

The nine panoramic photographs featured in the exhibition, along with the profiles of the outstanding professionals, are available on UNAfghanistan.org.

  • UN70 event in Mazar

UN70 event in Mazar celebrates enduring partnership with Afghans

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, 4 November 2015 – Afghan political leaders, diplomats and civil society representatives joined with United Nations officials in Mazar-e-Sharif to celebrate the enduring Afghan-UN partnership.

Atta Mohammad Noor, the Governor of Balkh Province, and Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, spoke at the event, the centerpiece of which was a photography exhibition highlighting the work and achievements of a group of Afghan professionals.

“This event is a photographic exhibition but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate 70 years of existence of the United Nations,” said Mr. Haysom. “Today, we are proud to celebrate 70 years of the UN’s existence with our friends, our partners, our close collaborators, amongst whom we certainly consider Governor Atta.”

Mr. Haysom accompanied Governor Noor during the exhibition, briefing him about each of the photographs.

“The question arose for us how best to celebrate the special relationship between the United Nations and Afghanistan, and how best to celebrate the ideals which drive the organization,” said Mr. Haysom. “We have decided, instead of listing the achievements of the United Nations, to focus on the work of 12 Afghan citizens.”

It is their work, said the UN envoy, that best represents the ideals of the United Nations. Mr. Haysom explained that the Afghan professionals were selected for the exhibit not only because they represent the diversity of Afghanistan, but also because they represent the full range of activities in which the United Nations has been engaged.

“Whether it is the protection of human rights, the preservation of cultural heritage, promotion of the environment, mobilization of youth, promotion of educational opportunity, or in creating safer conditions for communities to live, by, for example, clearing landmines – their work is a credit to them and to Afghanistan,” said Mr. Haysom.

For his part, Mr. Noor said that after the establishment of the United Nations, the world body has achieved much in terms of conflict resolution and in bringing peace and stability.

“For the last 60 years that Afghanistan has been a member of United Nations, it has been a very faithful member of the family,” said Balkh’s Governor. “I would like to particularly thank the United Nations for its efforts in the last 15 years in Afghanistan for coordinating international aid for peace-building efforts and countless other activities.”

Around 60 people attended the event, which brought together a series of specially commissioned panoramic photographs. Each photo – measuring 4 metres wide – contains three main scenes, highlighting key aspects of the professionals’ work in areas such as improved healthcare, support for returning refugees and environmental protection.

The Mazar event marked the first time the photographic exhibition has been seen outside Kabul, with further exhibitions planned for three other cities around Afghanistan.

Billboards celebrating the UN’s 70th anniversary – including messages about key work done by the UN family in Afghanistan – have gone up in Mazar, following their initial release in Kabul.

The nine panoramic photographs featured in the exhibition, along with the profiles of the outstanding professionals, are available on UNAfghanistan.org.