Press Releases

    AFG/182
    DEV/2364
    PI/1396
    21 January 2002

    UNITED NATIONS PRESENTS INTERIM PROGRAMME TO BRING
    IMMEDIATE RELIEF, RECOVERY TO AFGHANISTAN

    NEW YORK, 18 January 2002 (UN Headquarters) -- International donors and development partners, gathering in Tokyo, Japan, 21-22 January to pledge funds to rebuild Afghanistan’s shattered infrastructure and economy, will have the opportunity to jump-start the country’s recovery by financing a unique interim strategy that will provide the long-suffering Afghan people with immediate benefits.

    "The Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan, 2002" (ITAP), which will be presented to the donor community immediately following the Tokyo Ministerial Meeting, outlines the requirements for the United Nations, international organizations and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners for the immediate relief, recovery and reconstruction, as well as reintegration needs of the Afghan people -- including those living in neighbouring countries -- for 2002. It estimates that some $1.33 billion will be required for a period covering October 2001 to December 2002.

    While the discussions in Tokyo will be primarily focused on a comprehensive framework for reconstruction over the longer term -- based on a Preliminary Needs Assessment report prepared jointly by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, on behalf of the United Nations Development Group), outlining the recovery needs of Afghanistan over the next 10 years, at a cost of some $15 billion -- the United Nations system has recognized the fundamental necessity of presenting a programme that will address the ongoing humanitarian needs while bridging the gaps between relief, recovery and longer-term development.

    The 2002 Programme was developed, therefore, in consultation with the Afghan Interim Authority, to identify the support it will need in the coming months to successfully carry out essential tasks covering three clusters of initiatives. First, it outlines "quick impact" recovery activities -- costing some $376 million -- which can immediately improve the situation on the ground. Second, the Programme covers recurrent costs and expanding budgetary needs of the Interim Authority -- some $237 million -- based on discussions with the authorities in Kabul which will help stabilize government institutions and allow line ministries to deliver basic services such as health and education.

    And third, it also describes the critical unmet and continuing humanitarian needs of some $736 million not covered in the Needs Assessment report before donors in Tokyo. Such funds are urgently required throughout 2002 to redress the desperate plight of Afghanistan’s nearly 4 million refugees and 1 million internally displaced people.

    Emphasizing several humanitarian initiatives to counter the effects of three successive years of drought, the Programme prescribes immediate cash injections to fund improvements in food assistance and food security strategies as well as to rehabilitate agricultural capacities and natural resources. The key objective to support the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes and reintegrate them into the emerging economy will require some $319 million in 2002, and includes providing safety and security, enhancing the returnee monitoring process and promoting reconciliation between divided Afghan communities. Afghanistan has also suffered for years from the heavy presence of antipersonnel mines. To counter this problem, the Programme also spells out the urgent requirement for some $47 million for mine action activities.

    Another immediate priority for 2002 is rebuilding Afghanistan’s education system, which has all but collapsed in recent years. Only 38 per cent of boys and only 3 per cent of girls were enrolled in school in 1999. Demand for education remains high nevertheless, and the programme requests some $90 million, among other things, to improve access and equity in basic education, support the Interim Authority’s "Back-to-School" advocacy campaign, and to identify more female teachers and provide them with training.

    In presenting the Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme to donors, Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), and Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, stress "the all-important priority of ensuring Afghan ownership of the process", which requires rapidly building up the authority and reach of national and local institutions. "Immediate injections of cash at the community level through labour intensive projects will allow the Afghan people to see the peace dividend for themselves", they argue. "We must also ensure that Afghanistan’s women, who have for so long suffered exclusion, abuse and the loss of their rights, are now supported to play a full role in the country’s reconstruction."

    The Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan was prepared by the United Nations Country Team for Afghanistan, supported by headquarters through a newly formed Joint Working Group of members of the UNDG and the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), in consultation with members and standing invitees of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).

    For more information on the Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan go to www.reliefweb.int or www.hic.org.pk; and for the Needs Assessment Report go to http://www.undp.org/afghanistan/index.html.

    * *** *