Government in Afghanistan must reach local communities UN envoy says

“This will require programmes that ensure the participation of Afghans in the development of the country, while meeting the needs of vulnerable groups and poor regions,” Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Security Council this morning.“It will also challenge Afghanistan’s Government to make functioning institutions of justice and the rule of law more and more a reality in the communities in which most Afghans live” and will require actors in security, development, civil society and private sector to be more present in areas not yet touched by recovery, he added.The envoy’s briefing came two days after a bomb attack in Kabul against Sebghatullah Mojadeddi, a former president of Afghanistan who currently leads the Meshrano Jirga. While the politician escaped largely unharmed, Mr. Koenigs said the incident was “emblematic of national trends with regard to security which continue to be a serious concern.”Recent months have witnessed a rise in insurgent and terrorist attacks employing more sophisticated tactics. “There has been marked increase in the incidence of larger and more deadly explosive devices, including suicide bombings,” Mr. Koenigs noted. “The perpetrators of these attacks have shown a growing intent to target civilians, government officials and reconstruction workers such as road-builders.”Despite this violence, the international community has been working on the next phase in Afghanistan’s progress, which was heralded by an international agreement in London at the end of January on a five-year agenda, known as the Afghan Compact, to help consolidate democratic institutions, curb insecurity, control the illegal drug trade, stimulate the economy, enforce the law, provide basic services to the Afghan people and protect their human rights. Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on Afghanistan, Mr. Koenigs said that in order to help the Afghan Government to achieve those goals and extend its reach to underserved areas of the country, an extension of UNAMA’s mandate along with a modest expansion of its field presence is being proposed.He reminded the Council that the Compact had time-bound requirements and the clock has started ticking, with its first goal – the establishment of a clear and transparent appointments mechanism for senior level civil service positions – required to be met in six months.In a discussion after Mr. Koenig’s briefing, numerous Council Members welcomed the Afghan Compact, agreeing that the international community should maintain its engagement with the country and renew UNAMA’s mandate. read more

UN chief welcomes second anniversary of Implementation Day for Iran nuclear deal

“This marks another significant milestone” in the historic agreement, said UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement, noting that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – reached by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union – constitutes a major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security.The day, known as “Implementation Day,” occurred on 16 January 2016 when the Security Council received the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming that Iran has taken a series of nuclear-related actions specified in the JCPOA’s annex.“The Secretary-General remains convinced that the JCPOA is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and to realize the promised tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people,” Mr. Dujarric said.“The Secretary-General calls for concerns regarding its implementation to be addressed through the mechanisms established by the agreement,” and “believes that issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments,” Mr. Dujarric added. read more

Ohio pulls away from Iona in the 2nd half for an 8965

ATHENS, Ohio — Jason Carter scored 20 points and Teyvion Kirk and Ben Vander Plas each added another 18 as Ohio ran away from Iona in the second half to post an 89-65 victory on Tuesday night.The victory is Ohio’s first in the three-game history of the series.Tajuan Agee got to the basket for a layup with 7:51 left in the first half to put the Gaels up by three, 27-24, but Ohio (4-2) answered with eight straight points to take a 34-27 lead and held a 43-37 lead at intermission.Carter, coming off a career-high 25-point performance in the Bobcats 85-82 overtime win over Austin Peay, hit 8 of 15 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds. Vander Plas added his points off the Ohio bench and grabbed 11 rebounds. Doug Taylor also grabbed 11 rebounds.Agee scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Iona (2-4), which dropped its second straight gameThe Associated Press read more