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New Development Strategy for Afghanistan Unveiled

New Development Strategy for Afghanistan Unveiled Ahead of London Conference – UN

New York, Jan 30 2006 5:00PM

On the eve of an international conference aimed at putting Afghanistan on a solid course towards stability, a visionary yet practical development strategy for the country was made public today by the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).

The 78-page document is the product of yearlong intensive consultations within Government and with a wide array of partners, including the UN, religious leaders, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors.

Articulating the Government’s determination to continue progress achieved since the fall of the Taliban, who had prevented women from working or attending school, the text pledges: “All our children, boys and girls alike, will complete their primary educations. Afghanistan's women will enjoy greater equity in education, political participation and justice.”

The Framework calls for creating “a peaceful and just society, where the State has a monopoly on the use of force and uses it to protect the rights of all Afghans.” The aim is “to build a well trained, affordable, representative and professionalized national army and police force that provide security and uphold the law.”

Further commitments including halving the under-five mortality rate as well as the number of mothers who die in childbirth, and halting the spread of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases and ensure.

Hosted by the UN as well Afghanistan and the United Kingdom, the London Conference will launch the Afghanistan Compact, a plan for engaging the international community in the country over the next five years. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Afghan President Hamid Farzai will be joined by officials from more than 60 countries.

Ahead of the meeting, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today urged delegates to focus on the development needs of children and mothers. “Despite the incredible progress made for women and children since the 2001 Bonn Accord, Afghanistan remains a country where 600 children under the age of five die every day, mostly from preventable causes,” said UNICEF’s Representative to Afghanistan, Bernt Aasen.

Charles Vincent, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director for Afghanistan, echoed this mixed assessment. “Most noticeable for WFP is the drop in the numbers of hungry people from 9 million in 2002 to 6.5 million this year, but donors must remember that food is still a serious issue for poor Afghans,” he said.

Among those expected to attend the London Conference is Afghanistan’s Minister for Counter Narcotics, Habibullah Qadiri, who lived in exile in Pakistan for 16 years and worked with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for more than a decade.

“When I was working for the UN refugee agency I felt I was doing something truly worthwhile,” he said. “Through the agency I was serving my country. Today it's the same. I'm serving my country by ridding it of the scourge of drugs.”

An engineer by training, Mr. Qadiri began working with UNHCR in Pakistan after fleeing his home when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

After the defeat of the Taliban, he was among the first group of Afghans to return to their homeland in 2002 as part of the UN refugee agency’s repatriation operations. In Kabul, he began working with UNHCR and acted as an advisor to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation. Afghan President Karzai appointed him Minister of Counter Narcotics after the 2004 presidential elections.

“We have to spare no efforts in our fight against drugs and not allow their production to further tarnish the image of Afghanistan among the community of nations,” said the 45-year-old minister during an interview in Kabul last week.

The production of some 4,200 tonnes of raw opium in 2005 has given Afghanistan the unwanted title of the world's number one opium producer, the key ingredient used to manufacture heroin.

In a report released late last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that the area of land being used for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had dropped by about 20 per cent in 2005, but improved weather conditions led to higher crop yields for farmers.


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