UAE offers US$550 mn for reconstruction of Afghanistan

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The UAE has pledged US$ 550 million for reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan from 2002 up to October 2008, a UAE official said yesterday.

Assistant Undersecretary of UAE Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs Dr Tariq Al Haidan told delegates at the International Conference on Return and Reintegration of Afghan Refugees that the economic aid and humanitarian assistance, which covered divers sectors as infrastructure, health, education and defence, underlines the support lent by the government of UAE for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan.

He added that UAE humanitarian and relief agencies had also financed a series of projects, the most important of them were the Sheikh Zayed University in Kabul, the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid City in Kandahar, an orphanage and a psychiatric hospital.

'While participating in this conference, the UAE underscore its determination to support international efforts for reconstruction of Afghanistan and return of refugees,' he stressed.

According to UNHCR, more than 5 million Afghan refugees - 20 percent of Afghanistan's population - have returned home since 2002. The large majority has gone back to their areas of origin, but recent returnees are facing more difficulties as the country's absorption capacity reaches its current limits. Some - including 30,000 returnees now living under tents in the eastern region - are unable to return to their villages due to insecurity, a lack of land, shelter, basic services or job opportunities. These challenges have been compounded by a food crisis and severe drought, forcing thousands of desperate families to leave their homes for other districts, even for neighboring Iran and Pakistan. - Emirates News Agency, WAM