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UN fears anarchy in Afghanistan

March 29, 2004 13:39 IST
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A report to be released by the United Nations Development programme is likely to warn that unless the international body significantly increases assistance to Afghanistan the country could revert to a "terrorist breeding ground" with an economy dependent on the illegal drug trade.

A report in the Financial Times says the  report is likely to be released at the international Afghanistan conference, which opens in Berlin on Wednesday.

The report, obtained by the Financial Times, complains: "aid . . . has been much lower than expected or promised. In comparison to other conflict or post-conflict situations Afghanistan appears to have been neglected".

Noting that the Afghan president Hamid Karzai's postponement of the parliamentary and presidential elections from  June to September was a tacit acknowledgment that reconstruction efforts have stumbled, the Times quotes the UNDP report as saying that Iraq receives "10 times as much development assistance with roughly the same size of population".

"Development inflows amount to $67 per person, compared with $248 in Bosnia Herzegovina and $256 in East Timor," the paper quotes the report as saying.  "The report, which compiles the UN's latest data on Afghanistan, says the country's $4bn estimated GDP is small compared with the $14bn in "military costs" spent annually in Afghanistan by western powers," it says. Over half the population live in extreme poverty and only Sierra Leone ranks below Afghanistan on the UNDP's human development index. Life expectancy, at below 50, is "similar to that which prevailed in the 19th century in Europe".

According to the Times, "the report's strong language increases the likelihood of tough financial negotiations at this week's conference, to be co-chaired by Afghanistan, the UN, Germany and Japan. The Afghan government is due to present a seven-year, $28bn funding programme, while western governments have indicated that funding commitments, lasting four years at most, are unlikely to exceed the $4.5bn pledged by donors in Tokyo in 2002."

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