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UN urges continued international support for Afghanistan’s recovery

UN urges continued international support for Afghanistan’s recovery

Recent signs of positive change in Afghanistan could be placed at risk unless the international community continues to contribute to the country’s ongoing recovery, the United Nations has warned.

Nigel Fisher, the Deputy Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Afghanistan, briefed journalists in Kabul on Sunday on the recent meeting in Geneva of the Afghanistan Support Group, which convened in response to concerns that the speed and direction of donor support in the last six months, after a pledging conference in Tokyo, was not moving as fast as possible.

“In Geneva there was certainly a general agreement that with the completion of the Loya Jirga process, the time had come for donors to speed up the disbursement of promised assistance and support the operating budget of the Transitional Authority,” Mr. Fisher said of the 11 July meeting of top donors, the UN, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international financial institutions. “In general, donors did undertake to honour the pledges they made in Tokyo for 2002.”

Pointing to progress on such areas as food aid, education and mine clearance, Mr. Fisher warned that those developments were at risk unless international investment continued. “Collectively, we international partners have an opportunity to participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and to invest in its recovery,” he said.

“I use the word ‘invest’ advisedly because I believe that allocations today in education, in health care, in the environment, in economic recovery, in infrastructure will all have a tangible return in the space of just a few years,” he added. “On the other hand, failure to invest in Afghanistan at this critical juncture could help to fulfil our worst fears for the integrity, the economic development and the unity of the country.”

Mr. Fisher said among the challenges for the UN was to progressively transfer much of its responsibility to the Afghan people via the Government over the next 18 months, aiming to ensure that the transitional administration could take increasing charge of education and health services, the development of a prioritized national budget, and ensuring that donor funds were spent properly.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is in New York, is scheduled to brief the Security Council later this week on the latest developments in the country.