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Brahimi asks Security Council to expand international force across Afghanistan

Brahimi asks Security Council to expand international force across Afghanistan

Lakhdar Brahimi briefs the Security Council
The United Nations top envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, today asked the Security Council to urgently consider expanding the current UN-mandated international force from Kabul to the rest of the country to provide badly needed security.

In a statement this morning at an open meeting of the Council on the situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Brahimi said that on the issue of security, recent clashes in the country’s east and north showed that the peace was still fragile. He noted that there had been increasingly vocal demands by ordinary Afghans, members of the Interim Administration and even warlords, for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the rest of the country.

“We tend to agree and hope that this will receive favourable and urgent consideration by the Security Council,” Mr. Brahimi said, welcoming the move in the meantime by the ISAF to train a National Guard battalion of 600 soldiers beginning later this month.

As for the humanitarian relief efforts, Mr. Brahimi underscored the need again for more safety, pointing out that insecurity continued to hamper relief efforts in many parts of the country. This had a serious impact on population movements, which will be even more relevant and worrying when large numbers of refugees will want to return to their homes for the spring planting season. Nevertheless, aid efforts continued to gather momentum and access to several areas that until recently were considered unsafe had improved, he said.

Meanwhile, with the establishment of the Loya Jirga Commission and the Civil Service Commission soon on its way, two of the critical milestones in the peace process have been successfully met, Mr. Brahimi noted. The UN intended to focus its efforts now on helping the Interim Administration form the other two Commissions provided for in the Bonn Agreement – the Judicial Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Brahimi, who is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, said the UN was also busy finalizing the structure of the future mission in Afghanistan, which will operate with a “light footprint” as all sides have agreed to keep the international UN presence to the minimum required, while giving the Afghans as much of a role as possible.

“The hope of the people of Afghanistan, and our hope, is that the international community in general, and the United Nations in particular, will stand by the people of Afghanistan for the long haul,” Mr. Brahimi said.