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Afghans keen on rebuilding their country, UN agency says

Afghans keen on rebuilding their country, UN agency says

For the first time in many years, the international community has the opportunity to promote recovery and reconstruction in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said today.

"Afghans are keenly aware of the unexpected perspectives that now have opened up and are determined to build on opportunities," Knut Ostby, Acting Representative for UNDP Afghanistan, told the press in Islamabad. "They want to seize the moment to make a nation where their kids - girls and boys - can go to school, where mothers and fathers can go to work in the mornings and expect to come home in the evening to their families without threat of violence."

UNDP, along with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, are conducting an assessment of Afghanistan's needs to help the country's authorities and the international community in their reconstruction efforts, according to the spokesman. "The assessment will have to be both comprehensive and swift," he said. "The international aid community, led by the United Nations and its agencies, has to find practical solutions to pressing needs without wasting time."

Mr. Ostby cited a number of recovery priorities for Afghanistan, including demining, demobilizing former soldiers, reconstructing public institutions, restoring health services, re-establishing schools, developing agriculture, rebuilding infrastructure and promoting social development.

He emphasized that the people of Afghanistan must direct the reconstruction process. "At every step we must listen to the Afghans and they must be in the lead in the reconstruction process," he said. "Women's contributions will need to be at the forefront of development efforts."