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Afghan development needs must be focus of global assistance efforts UN official

14 September 2012 – A top United Nations humanitarian official today stressed the need to keep global attention focused on Afghan human development needs, as part of the wider international engagement with and support for the country.

“Unless […] human security and human development needs of the Afghans is put at the centre of the equation in the coming years, then the broader efforts by the international community to support Afghanistan to manage its own affairs and find peace and prosperity are unlikely to succeed,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Michael Keating, told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Keating has been on a 12-day tour of European countries and the United States, beginning on 4 September, to draw attention to the importance of “putting human security at the centre of plans” in Afghanistan.

Afghan authorities are working with the international community so that by 2014 they can assume full responsibility for security in all of the country’s 34 provinces. They are also working towards taking greater ownership of the development in a country which ranks in the bottom 10 per cent of the Human Development Index, which measures development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income.

More than one-third of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, and one in every two children under five is chronically malnourished. In addition, so far in 2012, about 300 natural disasters have struck the country, affecting more than 200,000 people. And, in the past year, up to 600,000 people have been internally displaced, more than any other year since 2001.

“Some of the policies that the international community and the Afghans are pursuing in the areas of development and of security do need to be tested against the degree to which they are preventing the perpetuation of humanitarian problems and helping people escape chronic vulnerability,” said Mr. Keating, who also serves as Deputy Special Representative with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

He pointed out that only 33 per cent, or about $150 million, of the $437 million sought for the UN consolidated appeal for humanitarian preparedness and response in the country for 2012 has been received to date.

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