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Annan heads to Kabul to show ‘solidarity’ with Afghan people – UN spokesman

Annan heads to Kabul to show ‘solidarity’ with Afghan people – UN spokesman

When United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrives in Afghanistan on Friday, he will bring with him a message of support to the country’s war-weary people, a UN spokesman said today.

“He is coming to express his solidarity for the people of Afghanistan in their time of need,” spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters in Kabul. “To see for himself the hardships that they have suffered.”

While in Afghanistan – the second leg of a trip to the region that began in Pakistan and will take him also to Iran – the Secretary-General will visit a girls’ school, underscoring the significance of their education, which was banned by the previous regime. “Education for girls…under the Taliban was non-existent, and it is an important message that Mr. Annan is sending to the people of Afghanistan and to the international community by visiting this girls’ school tomorrow,” said Mr. Fawzi.

In addition to meeting with ordinary Afghans, the Secretary-General will also “congratulate the leaders of the Interim Administration for the job that they have been doing under very difficult circumstances, over the past month, with few resources,” the spokesman said.

Asked about security challenges, Mr. Fawzi emphasized the importance of supporting the interim authorities in the area of law enforcement. “We have to assist this Administration create a new national army and police force that are capable of maintaining law and order throughout the country, otherwise we will not see the kind of development and progress and reconstruction that this country so desperately needs,” he said.

The UN estimates $1.3 billion is required to cover Afghanistan’s immediate needs, including some $313 million for food assistance, $221.6 million for the Interim Authority, $208.5 million for relief to nearly 4 million refugees and 1 million internally displaced Afghans, and $85.8 million to rebuild the education system.