United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi to coordinate all U.N. activities in Afghanistan.
In a statement, Mr. Annan said the grave humanitarian and political situation in Afghanistan requires someone to oversee both the humanitarian and political effort that the United Nations is making there. Mr. Brahimi, who was previously special representative to Afghanistan until 1999, has long been active in the United Nations and recently chaired a commission on U.N. peacekeeping.
In addition to supervising relief efforts, Mr. Brahimi will also be responsible for continuing U.N. efforts to bring about a cease-fire between the warring sides in Afghanistan.
The humanitarian situation there has deteriorated rapidly and U.N. relief coordinator Carolyn McAskie says aid workers are racing against the calendar to bring supplies into the country.
"We are looking at a date of mid-November when winter sets in, particularly in both the valley and mountain areas of Afghanistan, the center and north and northeast regions. After that, it is going to be, not impossible, but difficult to get supplies in," she said.
Ms. McAskie says relief officials estimate that the lives of five to six million people, both those inside Afghanistan and refugees in neighboring countries, will depend on international food aid this winter.