Afghanistan

UN Envoy calls on donors to fund disarmament effort in Afghanistan

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New York, Feb 23 2003 3:00PM - Lakhdar Brahimi, the senior United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, has urged donors meeting in Tokyo to support the country's efforts to help ex-soldiers lay down their arms.
Mr. Brahimi called disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants "a fundamental component of the whole effort to advance the peace process, build the rule of law and allow for reconstruction and investment to return Afghanistan to a normal economic and social footing."

In his address to the "Consolidation of Peace (DDR) in Afghanistan Conference" on Saturday, the envoy acknowledged that the process would not be easy but urged the international community to have patience, remain focused and be persistent.

"Donors, of course, are the indispensable part of the puzzle," he said. Pointing out that many -- if not most -- Afghan fighters are keen to return to civilian life, he stressed that ensuring sufficient funding to see them through the reintegration process would "significantly increase their confidence and readiness to commit to demobilization."

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, also addressed the Conference, which was attended by representatives of some 40 countries and international organizations.

Participants endorsed the Government's establishment of Afghanistan's "New Beginnings Programme" with the assistance of the UN mission in the country (UNAMA) and the international community. A UN spokesman in Kabul today reported that in addition to the $35 million already committed by the Japanese Government, other pledges, including from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, totalled some $50 million.

The spokesman also reported that Mr. Brahimi is headed to Malaysia to deliver a message on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur.