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AFGHANISTAN: UN ready to aid dialogue to boost prospects for peace

KABUL, 3 December 2007 (IRIN) - The UN is ready to facilitate dialogue between the Afghan government and anti-government elements who want to end violence and be part of Afghanistan's current political process, with the aim of strengthening peace and development in the country, according to a top UN official.

"2008 can be a year of success for Afghanistan," Christopher Alexander, deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and deputy head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told journalists in Kabul on 3 December.

The UN will spearhead efforts to resolve conflict and accelerate a process of reconciliation and peace-building through political outreach work: "We will try to include those Afghans who feel excluded from current institutions and make them part of development and rebuilding," Alexander said.

UNAMA has placed "political outreach, rule of law and re-integrated strategy" at the top of its agenda for 2008.

Strengthening of judiciary

The UN's second top priority for Afghanistan in 2008 will be galvanising multilateral efforts to rebuild and consolidate institutions which ensure law and order in the country.

With international support the UN will help Afghans to create and implement a national justice strategy through which judicial institutions will be strengthened and made more effective, Alexander said.

Over 800 Afghan police have been killed in various security incidents so far in 2007, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry reported on 2 December.

The UN will advocate deeper reform, transparency and an end to corruption in the Interior Ministry, Alexander said.

Furthermore, the UN would like to see the international community helping the government of President Hamid Karzai to reach Afghans in rural communities and improve governance at sub-national level.

"Single coherent plan" for Afghanistan

Six years after international forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 - and with over US$12 billion of aid money spent - Afghanistan is still the fifth least developed country in the world and millions of Afghans have urgent humanitarian needs, according to the country’s National Human Development Report (NHDR) for 2007. Afghanistan’s estimated population is 24.5 million people, according to Afghanistan’s Central Statistics office.

While aid agencies such as Oxfam international and think-tanks like the Senslis Council have recently raised concerns about lack of coordination among donors and criticised aid effectiveness, the UN has been prioritising the adoption of "a single coherent plan" for Afghanistan.

The new "reintegrated strategy" will also be reflected in UNAMA's new mandate, which is expected to be extended by the UN Security Council in March 2008, Alexander said.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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