Wednesday, 26 February 2003 - Donor
countries, led by Japan, pledged US$50.7 million at a conference in Tokyo
last Saturday to consolidate peace in Afghanistan by collecting weapons,
demobilizing Afghan fighters and creating jobs for them.
UNDP will join with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to carry out the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme in partnership with the Afghanistan Transitional Administration. Support so far has come from Japan, providing $35 million, and the US pledging $10 million, the UK $3.5 million and Canada $2.2 million.
The Tokyo Conference on Consolidation of Peace (DDR) in Afghanistan, "Change of Order - from Guns to Plows," hosted by the Government of Japan, was attended by Hamid Karzai, President of the Afghanistan Transitional Administration, Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, and representatives of 34 countries and 12 international organizations.
The Afghanistan's New Beginnings Programme will help collect weapons and offer former army soldiers and provincial militia fighters alternative sources of income in return for demobilizing. Among the main prospective participants are middle ranking militia commanders, who still control many communities.
The reintegration phase includes vocational training and helping ex-combatants return to their communities. Recently initiated reconstruction initiatives will support the process by providing jobs on labour-intensive projects.
Mr. Karzai said that his government is committed to the full implementation of the initiative. "I hope that the international community's commitment and the continuing leadership of the Government of Japan will encourage all our friends to join in a broad partnership to further consolidate our plans to build a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan," he said.
Sadako Ogata, the Japanese Prime Minister's Special Representative for Assistance to Afghanistan, said: "When we tackle the formidable challenges of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, we should keep in mind that peace building is people building."
UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, in a message delivered by Akiko Yuge, Director, UNDP Tokyo, emphasized the role of UNDP in "forming an important bridge between pillar one and pillar two, between the political and security domain, and the reconstruction and humanitarian one."
The programme will open a main office in Kabul by mid-March, and will establish regional offices by early May in Mazar-I-Sharif, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Parwan, Gardez and Herat. These offices will be staffed primarily by local personnel.
For further information, please contact: Akiko Fujii, firstname.lastname@example.org, UNDP Tokyo, or Trygve Orfarnes, email@example.com ,UNDP Communications Office.