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Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Offers Afghans a Helping Hand

Canada will provide $8.8 million dollars for de-mining activities in Kandahar Province and across Afghanistan, as well as $1.9 million dollars to promote community-led development. The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages made the announcement. "We are investing in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOR) to open up more land for agriculture, pasture and housing. And our investment in the creation of 12 new democratically-elected Community Development Councils will lead communities to establish shelter, electricity, roads, drainage and sewers, and improve water and waste management services,” she said.

Canada`s contribution, in conjunction with the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA),  includes minefield survey and clearance, stockpile destruction, mine risk education, victim assistance and capacity building and co-ordination. The UNMACA and the Government of Afghanistan seek to reduce by 70 percent the land area contaminated by mines and UXOR - estimated at 720 million square meters - by the end of 2010. The contribution will also support efforts to educate the children of Afghanistan about the dangers of such devices.

In a separate initiative, Canada will contribute $1.9 million to UN-HABITAT`s activities in Kandahar City. Working with the Afghanistan Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, UN-HABITAT will establish 12 new democratically-elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). The project will rehabilitate local infrastructure including shelter, electricity, roads, drainage and sewers, while also improving services such as water, health and sanitation, and waste management. In addition, infrastructure upgrades will create jobs.

Meanwhile, the Wheelchair Foundation of Canada donated and delivered 560 wheelchairs for disabled Afghans in Kandahar Province. Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada Omar Samad thanked Cristiana Flessner, Executive Director of the Foundation, for the “valuable and life-changing humanitarian help”.

Ms. Flessner, whose organization in several countries delivers thousands of wheelchairs yearly to the needy, said the wheelchairs will help the recipients increase mobility and gain access to jobs and education.  The wheelchairs were delivered by Canadian forces  to the people of Kandahar Province this month.

Ambassador Samad expressed admiration for the Afghan wheelchair program and expressed hope for the expansion of the Afghan wheelchair program. He applauded the program as a prime example of the partnership between the peoples of Canada and Afghanistan. 

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