- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

Afghans flock home
KABUL, Afghanistan More than 1.3 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan more than three times the expected number leading the United Nations to cut aid programs due to lack of funds.
Maki Shinohara, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said yesterday that the overwhelming flow of returning refugees one of the largest in history has "sapped UNHCR's $271 million budget for Afghanistan." She said that the agency lacks about $65 million to get through the year, and that contributions are urgently needed.
The United Nations initially figured 400,000 of the estimated 4 million Afghans living abroad would return this year. However, 1.2 million have arrived so far from Pakistan alone, averaging 8,000 people per day. The UNHCR has revised its estimate for refugee influx this year to more than 2 million.

Iraqi oil exports lag
BAGHDAD The new U.N. humanitarian coordinator in sanctions-hit Iraq, Ramiro Armando de Oliveira Lopes da Silva, began his mission on Saturday, hoping to make the oil-for-food program "more efficient and effective."
Mr. Lopes da Silva, 53, of Portugal, met his staff that day and said an enormous amount of work is needed to improve the program. Low Iraqi oil sales in the current and two previous 180-day phases of the humanitarian program has led to a cash shortfall.
Iraq has been under embargo for invading Kuwait in August 1990 but since December 1996 has been authorized to export crude oil to finance imports of essential goods under the supervision of the United Nations.

UAE donates for Jenin
GAZA CITY The Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates donated $27 million to the United Nations on Saturday to help rebuild the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin, devastated in a battle with the Israeli army.
The money will be used by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to rebuild houses for about 400 families whose homes were destroyed in the April attack. More than 20 Israeli soldiers and 50 Palestinians died in the fighting, which lasted more than a week.
"The money will be used to rebuild or repair refugee shelters, camp infrastructure and communal facilities destroyed or damaged in the April fighting," UNRWA said in a statement.

Return of an obelisk
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia Stepping up diplomatic pressure on Italy, Ethiopia said yesterday that the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of developing nations (ACP) adopted a resolution calling on Italy to return an ancient obelisk looted by Italian fascist forces in 1937.
The resolution, calling on Italy "to honor the various agreements it signed with Ethiopia and return the obelisk to Ethiopia," followed a similar resolution about 10 days earlier at the inaugural summit of the African Union in Durban, South Africa.
On Saturday, Ethiopia cautiously welcomed a pledge by Italy to return the venerated ancient obelisk that stands outside the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
The 160-ton obelisk, originally a Yemenite funerary monument, dates from the third century B.C. Chunks of the obelisk fell to the ground during an electrical storm in late May.
Betsy Pisik is on vacation; her column will resume when she returns.

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