International efforts produce ‘tangible’ peace dividend in Afghanistan – UNDP chief
The international community has done much more, much quicker in helping Afghanistan with development and humanitarian activities than it was thought possible a year ago, according to the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Efforts on the ground had produced “a tangible peace dividend” for the people of Afghanistan, UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said Thursday in a special briefing to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Those achievements included the “back to school” campaign for Afghan children, efforts to improve the situation of women, salary payments for civil servants in 13 provinces, an approved national budget, and a draft national development framework to be finalized shortly.
Mr. Malloch Brown noted there had been strong international support for the Afghan Interim Administration. For the first time in history, within a month of a government assuming power, the international community had rallied around the needs assessment plan and mobilized resources in support of the country. Reconstruction and relief operations had been a critical breakthrough and cooperation, and coordination between the donors and agencies had improved remarkably.
Despite this progress, however, there was “a second Afghanistan,” one where the security situation continued to worsen and the capacity of Kabul to manage a national government was constrained, the UNDP Administrator warned. There also was a need to avoid an “over-bilateralization” of assistance in which aid was not properly managed. All current and future UNDP efforts were based on the interdependence of development and peace-building.
In other news from Afghanistan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that the return of Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries hit the 300,000 mark. At its current rate, the agency said, the repatriation movement of the world's largest refugee group is shaping up to be the biggest and fastest since 800,000 people went home to Kosovo in 1999.