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UN extends international security force as Afghan violence rises

9 October 2009 – The Security Council has called on Governments to strengthen the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in the face of increased threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other armed groups, unanimously extending the mission for another year.

ISAF, which now stands at 67,700 troops on the ground from 42 contributing countries, was established after United States-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001 to help the then-interim authorities maintain security across nation.

The resolution, passed yesterday evening by the Security Council, recognized “the need to further strengthen ISAF to meet all its operational requirements, and in this regard calls upon Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources.”

Voicing strong concern over the rise in terrorism and drug-trafficking in the South Asian country, the 15-member body underscored the importance of reinforcing the Afghan security forces to establish the rule of law throughout the country, and encouraged ISAF and its partners to support the planned expansion of the national army and police.

The Council noted in resolution 1890 (2009) the tightening link between terrorist groups to criminals involved in the narcotics trade, and its threat to the local population, including children, national security forces and international military and civilian personnel.

The UN body also expressed serious concern over the high number of civilian deaths in the conflict, condemning all attacks, including Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, suicide bombings and abductions, as well as the use of human shields by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups.

In addition, the Security Council deplored the targeting of Afghan and international forces, with its damaging effect on the stabilization, reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan.

Recognizing measures taken to minimize the risk of civilian casualties, the Council welcomed ISAF’s plans to continue efforts to protect the Afghan population as a central element of its mission, and noted the importance of reviewing tactics and procedures, as well as conducting investigations in cooperation with the Government in cases where civilian casualties have occurred and when the Afghan Government finds these joint investigations appropriate.

The Security Council resolution underscored the need for the Government to intensify efforts to fight corruption, promote transparency and increase its accountability, and stressed the central and impartial role the United Nations plays in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. ISAF’s twelve-month extension period begins on 13 October.

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