International commitments to help Afghanistan must be upheld, says UN envoy

International commitments to help Afghanistan must be upheld, says UN envoy

Kai Eide of Norway (file photo)
The commitments made recently in Paris to help Afghanistan must be met to prevent the erosion of support for the United Nation’s efforts, the world body’s top envoy to the strife-torn South Asian nation said today.

At last month’s Paris Conference, dozens of countries and international organizations pledged resources to help Afghanistan rebuild and advance peace, security and development.

“I am convinced that if we do not live up to the commitments undertaken in Paris, then we will jeopardize the support that we depend on – both in Afghan public opinion and in the public opinion of donor countries,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told the Security Council in an open meeting.

During the Conference, which he characterized as a “success,” the Afghan Government unveiled its five-year plan to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development, known as the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

“The launching of ANDS comes at a critical juncture,” Mr. Eide, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said. “We need a clearer sense of direction and we need to inject greater energy in our work.”

The Declaration issued at the Paris meeting also included a pledge to ensure more effective delivery of aid, but he stressed that this must be “matched by determination on the Afghan side to improve the quality of its administration, show greater accountability and combat corruption.”

Also addressing today’s meeting, which heard from nearly 30 speakers, Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes voiced concern over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“It is clear that humanitarian needs are indeed serious and growing,” he said, spotlighting the problems in four key areas: food insecurity propelled by drought and exacerbated by surging global prices; the plight of millions of Afghan refugees returning to their home country; the pressure on civilians due to ongoing fighting; and the threat posed by natural disasters, in particular floods and earthquakes.

The situation requires bolstering the humanitarian response, Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said.

He urged that capacity and resources for aid workers be increased and that protection for civilians be enhanced.

Furthermore, the Coordinator, who visited Afghanistan last month, urged for ways to better differentiate military and political activities from humanitarian measures. “No matter how difficult, it is important to find opportunities to expand humanitarian space, to increase access, and to reduce the likelihood of attacks on humanitarian actors,” he said.

In a report made public earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that helping the Afghan people to rebuild their country and improve their daily lives will require strengthening UNAMA in a number of key areas, including increased staffing and possible structural changes.

“For UNAMA to fulfil its mandate and achieve the Paris priorities, much greater substantive, administrative and security resources would need to be expeditiously mobilized,” Mr. Ban said.

He stressed that the Mission should be staffed and structured to reflect what Mr. Eide needs to achieve. “Addressing current priorities will require additional personnel in the areas of elections, support for the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, aid effectiveness, institution-building and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”