30 June 2010 Security will be a major challenge in what is gearing up as a critical period for Afghanistan, which will be hosting a major international conference in the capital next month and holding parliamentary elections in September, the top United Nations envoy there said today.
“This is indeed a crucial year in Afghanistan,” Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Security Council, which last week visited the country to assess for itself the progress made.
“It is a year in which we are all trying, together with the Afghan authorities and the Afghan people, to reach a form of stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan,” he noted.
Earlier this month the Government hosted the Consultative Peace Jirga, which brought together 1,600 participants from across the nation and resulted in a communiqué endorsing President Hamid Karzai’s initiative to convene a national dialogue on ways to restore peace.
On 20 July the Government will host the Kabul Conference, at which it is expected to present an Afghan-led plan for improving development, governance and security.
Mr. de Mistura said the main objective of the conference is to foster confidence in a “public contract between the Afghan Government and the Afghan people” and promote the delivery of social and economic improvements.
The international community, he said, will not be expected to bring new funds to the gathering but to re-align the resources which they have already allocated for Afghanistan with the country’s own priorities.
UNAMA, for its part, had decided to adopt a “three-plus-one” strategy with a focus on support to elections, fostering national dialogue and encouraging regional engagement, while also focusing on aid coherence and coordination, he noted.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many foreign ministers are expected to attend the July meeting, which will be co-chaired by the UN and follows the London Conference held in January, during which the Government and its international partners jointly endorsed a strategy of transition to greater Afghan responsibility for the affairs of the country.
In his latest report on Afghanistan, Mr. Ban noted that although the country has witnessed a number of positive developments recently, the overall security situation has not improved and remains unstable despite the considerable growth and reform plans for the development of the Afghan National Security Forces.
“A comprehensive approach on security sector reform needs to be supported by effective governance and progressive advances in the political process, to counterbalance concentrated military efforts,” he stated.
Mr. de Mistura, in an interview with the UN News Centre, said security should be a major focus for the Afghan Government, and added that another priority should be socio-economic development, particularly job creation and opportunities for young people who make up 40 per cent of the country’s population.
“They need to feel that there is a future. Otherwise, they may be tempted to join the wrong side.”
Despite the fact that overall security has not improved in recent months, Mr. de Mistura noted that the UN has a continuing presence, with almost 1,000 international staff and 6,000 national staff in 21 locations around the country.
“Our intention is to be, especially in this critical period, close to the Afghans in what is going to be a crucial year,” he stated. “Of course, the challenge remains security during this critical period.”
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