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Political ‘Surge’ Needed For Afghan Security, Aid

UN Envoy Calls For Political ‘Surge’ To Tackle Afghan Security, Humanitarian Needs

New York, Oct 6 2008 1:10PM

The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today stressed the need for a political “surge” to boost the prospects for peace in the strife-torn nation and to respond b to urgent humanitarian concerns such as access for the delivery of vital food aid.

“None of us can deny that there are very serious problems and none of us can deny that the security situation has deteriorated,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, told a news conference in the capital, Kabul.

At the same time, Mr. Eide warned against pessimism and asserted that there is a strong international commitment to reverse the negative trends in the country. A key element in doing so is to focus on the agenda set by the Government and international partners at a major meeting in Paris in June.

The International Conference in Support of Afghanistan, held on 12 June, saw fresh pledges of resources for the country’s rebuilding efforts, as well as the launch of the Government’s five-year plan to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development, known as the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS).

Mr. Eide pointed to recent progress on the implementation plan for the ANDS, improved work of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, the agreed expansion of the national army, closer scrutiny of aid effectiveness, and the launch of a new anti-corruption agency.

“We have made some progress, but we need to accelerate that work,” he stressed. “What we need most of all is a political surge – more political energy.”

This is particularly crucial, he noted, to address urgent humanitarian needs, such as food delivery. Some 4.5 million Afghans face possible food shortages during the coming winter months due to a combination of insecurity, drought and high food prices.

“We should all, and I repeat all, come together to ensure that food reaches those who need it most,” said Mr. Eide, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“I will take this opportunity to appeal to the Taliban and to appeal to its leaders to ensure access for food distribution and to expand the humanitarian agenda that we should share,” he said. “There are disagreements on so many things – but let us demonstrate that we can share this humanitarian agenda.”

In a recent report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that the deterioration of the security situation has hampered UNAMA in carrying out its efforts, with 90 of the country’s nearly 400 districts identified as areas of extreme risk. Attacks on aid-related targets and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also become more frequent and more deadly.

ENDS

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