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09 September 2002

U.N.'s Brahimi Says Afghanistan Will Need Help for Years

(Afghans must lead the way, U.N. envoy says) (420)
By Judy Aita
Washington File U.N. Correspondent
United Nations -- The U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan said September
9 that the devastated country will need international help for years
to come.
Addressing a conference of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that
is held each year during the opening of the U.N. General Assembly,
U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi identified humanitarian,
development and security needs as still pressing and said that "the
U.N. and the NGOs still have a critical role to play and will for some
time to come."
"There is still a deep humanitarian crisis which is likely to persist
for some time. The country remains divided and destroyed," Brahimi
The issue of security "continues to loom large in Afghanistan. ...
Security remains precarious in much of the country and many Afghans
still feel that they are at the mercy of local commanders or armed
groups," the special envoy said.
The U.N. is seriously concerned about the safety of humanitarian
workers, he said, particularly in the northern region where over 70
attacks have taken place this year.
But the special envoy also stressed that the issue at this stage "is
not whether we have a role, but the importance of defining and
implementing it with care."
The Afghans have invited the U.N. and other aid organizations into
their country, but the U.N. and NGOs must realize that with the
invitation comes great responsibility that must be used wisely,
Brahimi said.
Since a government in now in place in Afghanistan, the U.N. role "now
should be to provide the government with support and assistance -- not
to seek to govern in its place or impose upon it our own goals and
aspirations," he said.
Brahimi pointed out that the U.N. goal is to turn over the operation
of every program to the Afghans as soon as possible. "The peace and
reconstruction process stands a far better chance of success when it
is nationally owned rather than led by external actors," he said.
The U.N. and private organizations must be responsive to the
priorities set by the Afghan government, he said, not their own
agendas. "Our goal...should be to work ourselves out of a job as
quickly as possible," Brahimi said. "The ultimate success for each and
every one of us will be achieved the day we are no longer needed in
Issues which will take on increasing significance over the next six to
12 months are elections and the judicial and human rights commissions
that are to be set up, he said, and the international community will
have to provide significant assistance -- both financial and technical
-- in these difficult and sensitive tasks.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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