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UN official says Afghanistan will need multi-billion dollar recovery effort

UN official says Afghanistan will need multi-billion dollar recovery effort

Addressing a conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan held today in Washington, D.C., a senior United Nations official said the country's long-term recovery effort would cost billions of dollars.

The Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Mark Malloch Brown, said UN rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan could cost at least as much as the world body’s programme in Mozambique in the mid-1990s, which ran to some $6.5 billion over five years.

Mr. Malloch Brown noted that the Mozambique programme cost around a billion dollars annually for the first two years, with that figure rising further over the third through fifth years.

"After decades of war, poverty and ignorance, Afghan men, women and children need and deserve peace as well as social, political and economic well-being," the UNDP Administrator said. "Let us not fail them."

The conference was also addressed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, whose Deputy, Carolyn McAskie, echoed the call for aid to Afghanistan at a press briefing in New York.

"We're very concerned about the breakdown in agriculture from the war and from the drought," she said. "No matter what we do - even if the security situation stabilizes over the next few weeks - no matter what we do on the development side my own personal estimate is that we will be supplying humanitarian assistance in parallel with development investment for a good 12 to 18 months."

On the positive side, Ms. McAskie reported that up to 90 per cent of the UN's local staff in Afghanistan were back at work. "Out of a staff of 700 people, that's a significant number," she said.