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Govt in Afghanistan must reach local communities

Government in Afghanistan must reach local communities, UN envoy says

Against a backdrop of rising terrorism and insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, the top United Nations envoy to the country today said that the Kabul Government must, with international help, extend its reach to local communities.

“This will require programmes that ensure the participation of Afghans in the development of the country, while meeting the needs of vulnerable groups and poor regions,” Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Security Council this morning.

“It will also challenge Afghanistan’s Government to make functioning institutions of justice and the rule of law more and more a reality in the communities in which most Afghans live” and will require actors in security, development, civil society and private sector to be more present in areas not yet touched by recovery, he added.

The envoy’s briefing came two days after a bomb attack in Kabul against Sebghatullah Mojadeddi, a former president of Afghanistan who currently leads the Meshrano Jirga. While the politician escaped largely unharmed, Mr. Koenigs said the incident was “emblematic of national trends with regard to security which continue to be a serious concern.”

Recent months have witnessed a rise in insurgent and terrorist attacks employing more sophisticated tactics. “There has been marked increase in the incidence of larger and more deadly explosive devices, including suicide bombings,” Mr. Koenigs noted. “The perpetrators of these attacks have shown a growing intent to target civilians, government officials and reconstruction workers such as road-builders.”

Despite this violence, the international community has been working on the next phase in Afghanistan’s progress, which was heralded by an international agreement in London at the end of January on a five-year agenda, known as the Afghan Compact, to help consolidate democratic institutions, curb insecurity, control the illegal drug trade, stimulate the economy, enforce the law, provide basic services to the Afghan people and protect their human rights.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on Afghanistan, Mr. Koenigs said that in order to help the Afghan Government to achieve those goals and extend its reach to underserved areas of the country, an extension of UNAMA’s mandate along with a modest expansion of its field presence is being proposed.

He reminded the Council that the Compact had time-bound requirements and the clock has started ticking, with its first goal – the establishment of a clear and transparent appointments mechanism for senior level civil service positions – required to be met in six months.

In a discussion after Mr. Koenig’s briefing, numerous Council Members welcomed the Afghan Compact, agreeing that the international community should maintain its engagement with the country and renew UNAMA’s mandate.

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