Top UN relief official calls for greater investment in development in Afghanistan

Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos (front) walks through a refugee camp in Kabul’s Parwan Se district in Afghanistan. UN Photo/Fardin Waezi

11 May 2012 – The top United Nations humanitarian official today reaffirmed the Organization’s continued support for Afghanistan and stressed the need for increased investment in programmes that expand sources of livelihood and improve basic education, health care and the rule of law.

“We must also invest in efforts to strengthen the resiliency of communities themselves and the capacity of service delivery institutions,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said as she wound up a four-day visit to assess the country’s humanitarian situation.

“Much has been achieved over the past decade, but Afghanistan remains near the bottom ranking of all human development indicators,” said Ms. Amos, who also serves as the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “We are and will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance where it is needed, but clearly this alone is not enough.”

More than a third of Afghanistan’s population has experienced displacement, including the 5.6 million people who have returned to the country after years living as refugees in other countries, according to OCHA.

An estimated five million Afghans remain in neighbouring countries and another 500,000 are internally displaced by conflict, recurring natural disasters and underdevelopment in rural areas.

OCHA notes that parallel to its humanitarian needs, the country requires longer-term investment in human development and disaster preparedness measures to reduce vulnerability.

“Security is a priority. But for the Afghans I met, security is not just about physical security – it is also about the importance of investment in human development and the delivery of critical functions such as livelihoods, primary education, health care and the functioning rule of law,” Ms. Amos added. “They need and deserve our continued support.”

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