United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today asked a special ministerial meeting of some 20 countries, including some of the world's richest, for renewed help for the Afghan Government and said the support will likely be required into the future because "the need is even greater than we thought and likely to last longer."
According to a text of his remarks released after the closed-door meeting, Annan said the governments should be prepared to plan for continued assistance beyond the 2004 time frame set by an international donors' conference in Bonn in 2001 and called for a new international meeting early next year to re-assess needs.
"The (Afghan) Government needs your support in funding the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund," Mr. Annan said. "In particular, it may be necessary to take another look at reconstruction and development needs beyond the timeframe set out in the Bonn Agreement. Many of the pledges made last year in Tokyo extended only through the end of the Bonn process. It has become clear since then that the need is even greater than we thought, and likely to last longer."
Although the Secretary-General praised many of the accomplishments in Afghanistan in the past year - including vastly increased food production, the return to school of millions of girls and boys, and general political and infrastructure advances - he said, "significant challenge remain."
"Arbitrary rule by local commanders prevails in many areas of the country, blocking the extension of the law and authority of the government. Too often, human rights are violated with impunity. Illegal narcotics production has flourished, which in turn finances factional and criminal agendas and undermines legitimate economic activities," he said.
Mr. Annan added that deadly attacks on national and international aid workers have increased. "Such insecurity hampers reconstruction activities and severely threatens political participation across a wide region of the country," he said. "It is essential that the Afghan Government and international community do not allow this to happen. We must protect the gains we have made."
Listed as speakers for the meeting were Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Deputy Prime Ministers of Turkey and Turkmenistan and the Foreign Ministers of the permanent members of the Security Council, China, France, United Kingdom, Russian Federation and United States.
Other participants included the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iran, India, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as high-ranking delegates from Saudi Arabia, Japan, the European Commission and the Council of the European Commission.