The United Nations Security Council today held a daylong discussion on the situation in Afghanistan as it focused on the latest report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan outlining the concept for a future UN presence in the country.In presenting Mr. Annan’s report at the outset of the Council’s debate, which was chaired by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette noted that the large number of non-Council members participating in the meeting was an encouraging sign of “the continuing interest and support of the international community in helping the Afghans rebuild their society.” Detailing aspects of Mr. Annan’s report, the Deputy Secretary-General said the proposed UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) was based on two pillars – one for structure and one for relief and assistance. Human rights will be central to the purposes and functions of the new mission, both as it fulfils the provisions of the Bonn Agreement directly related to human rights, and as it seeks to fully integrate human rights into its humanitarian, reconstruction and political activities, including the rule of law and national capacity building.As for recent developments in the country, both the Afghan Interim Administration and the UN had made education a key priority, the Deputy Secretary-General said. Last Saturday, the first day of the school year, had been a major step towards getting children back to school with 1.5 million students able to return. Supplies by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to schools around the country had provided materials for both students and teachers.The increased rainfall had also left many farmers optimistic about their next crops after three years of drought, Ms. Fréchette said. That optimism had been reflected in a spontaneous population movement especially among internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of who had started to return home. In addition, an average of 10,000 refugees per day had crossed from neighbouring Pakistan into Afghanistan. To address that flow, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would open more registration centres in the next few weeks.Ms. Fréchette pointed out that even though UN agencies were gearing up to meet the challenges, they were also becoming increasingly alarmed by the slow pace of funding. “Almost a month ago, in Kabul, we presented the Immediate and Transitional Assistance programme for this year, spelling out requirements of $1.18 billion,” she said. “We now urgently need to convert the generous pledges already made into actual contributions.”The Deputy Secretary-General also noted that while the security situation in Afghanistan had apparently improved somewhat over the past few weeks, there had been further violent incidents in some areas, including reports that Taliban elements were regrouping in southern Paktia for a guerrilla campaign against the Interim Administration.“The concerns about security expressed in the Secretary-General’s report remain all too pertinent,” Ms. Fréchette said, warning against complacency.Following her statement, representatives of close to 30 countries, including all 15 members of the Council, took part in the debate. On Wednesday, the Council is scheduled to continue deliberations on the report in closed consultations.
We are putting police dogs and horses on the same level as police cars and riot vansConservative MP David Mackintosh The proposed Finn’s law is named after a Hertfordshire police dog who needed surgery after being stabbed several times while chasing an armed suspect.Responding to the petition the Home Office said those who assault animals can already receive a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. A statement said: “Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage, allowing for penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.”An additional offence dealing specifically with attacks on police animals may not result in more prosecutions or increased sentences.”But Conservative MP David Mackintosh, who is presenting the debate on Monday as he sits on the Petitions Committee, said the law should reflect the status “of our brave and courageous animals”.He said: “When you look at their current status, assaults on police dogs and horses are treated in the same way as criminal damage. “We are putting police dogs and horses on the same level as police cars and riot vans, and I think that’s wrong.”This should be looked at in a way that reflects the status of our brave and courageous animals who help us fight against criminality.”In some parts of the US attacks on dogs are treated the same as attacks on their human handlers.Mr Mackintosh said ministers should look at giving greater protection to animals, although he said there would be problems giving them the same status as humans. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Police animals do not necessarily need to be given the same legal status as officers who are injured on duty, the Government has suggested ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue on Monday. The proposed law, which would cover police dogs and horses, is set to be debated after more than 100,000 people signed a petition. Under current rules criminals who attack police animals are prosecuted for causing criminal damage, but campaigners want the creatures to be given the same status as injured officers.