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Quick action pledged by UN official tapped to lead recovery effort in Afghanistan

Quick action pledged by UN official tapped to lead recovery effort in Afghanistan

Mark Malloch Brown
The top United Nations development official, who has been just named by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead the early recovery effort in Afghanistan, pledged today to take quick action in responding to the challenges facing the country.

"The system is braced and poised for a major effort here, and what I can do is offer it the leadership at the global level and try to make sure that we have a strong partnership with others," Mark Malloch Brown, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), told a news conference in New York.

The challenge, he said, was to structure a programme, which "shows the same transference of the local knowledge of the country that we've developed in our humanitarian years there into a coherent recovery and reconstruction plan."

The UNDP Administrator noted that international efforts were gaining momentum, with numerous meetings scheduled in the near future. Tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., donors and international organizations would gather at a meeting co-hosted by the United States and Japan. Next week in Islamabad, UNDP and the Asian Development Bank would convene another meeting with some 200 Afghans to look at assessing needs for recovery and reconstruction. The following week, the Afghan Support Group would meet in Europe.

The UN had "huge on-the-ground capacity" in Afghanistan, Mr. Malloch Brown said, noting that there were some 2,200 national Afghans working for UN agencies in the country. In addition, there were "very large numbers" of skilled Afghans living in refugee camps. Drawing on this pool of human capital would be crucial because "it is not the UN's intention to run Afghanistan for the next few years; it is to deploy support to an Afghan-led administration of the country," he noted.

The announcement of Mr. Malloch Brown's role in the relief effort came late on Friday in a statement, which said that he "will undertake this process under the overall coordination of the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi."

As part of his efforts, the UNDP Administrator will liaise on the Secretary-General's behalf with other partners such as the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank, the European Commission, other donor organizations, as well as international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society, to ensure a "comprehensive consultation and planning process that responds to the needs of the Afghan people themselves," the statement said.