Afghanistan

UNAMA Year in Review November 2009: UN chief meets staff in Kabul and IEC declares Karzai as winner

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met UN staff in Kabul at the beginning of November to express his sympathy and solidarity, following the deadly attack on a guest house in Kabul that killed five UN staff members and injured nine others.

He said his main goal was to "insist on the security of all staff, Afghan and internationals."

Furthermore, both Mr Ban and his special envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide, pledged in the aftermath of the attack that the UN would continue its work in the country.

The Secretary-General also met with President Hamid Karzai and former presidential candidate Dr Abdullah Abdullah, who had announced that he was to withdraw from the second round of Afghanistan's presidential election that was scheduled for 7 November.

Mr Ban requested President Hamid Karzai to beef up security for UN staff in Afghanistan and also urged the president to ensure good governance, "including the eradication of corruptive practices prevalent in Afghanistan, controlling drug trafficking and forming a unity government with experienced ministers and government officials."

On the same day, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared Hamid Karzai as the winner of the 2009 presidential elections.

The Secretary-General vowed that the United Nations would provide every support and assistance to the new Government and millions of Afghan people as he congratulated Hamid Karzai on his re-election.

He empathized that "the new President must move swiftly to form a Government that is able to command the support of both the Afghan people and the international community."

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council acknowledged the IEC decision and reiterated their commitment to support Afghanistan on its path towards peace, reconciliation, democracy and reconstruction.

On his inauguration as president for a second term on 19 November, President Karzai detailed a work programme for the new Government, and pledged to fight corruption and to bring increased good governance, security and services to the country.

In light of the 28 October attack against UN staff in Kabul as well as further ongoing threats, the UN announced that it was taking additional steps to reduce risks to its national and international staff serving in Afghanistan.

"We are not talking about pulling out and we are not talking about evacuation," said Kai Eide, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Afghanistan.

"We're simply doing what we have to, following the tragic event last week to look after our workers in a difficult moment while ensuring that our operations in Afghanistan can continue."

On 11 November, at a UN Security Council debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said: "There is an urgent need to improve accountability, including through criminal prosecution as well as redress for victims" in Afghanistan, where the continuing conflict has repeatedly caught civilians in the cross-fire.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Japan's intention to increase its assistance for Afghanistan to a total of up to US$ 5 billion over the next five years, and said he hoped other nations will follow suit.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in Afghanistan warned that the H1N1 flu pandemic could affect more people during the looming winter as the disease spreads rapidly in cold weather.

The United Nations also called on all Afghans to take part in the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

On 28 November, the Secretary-General said that the upcoming conferences on Afghanistan in London and Kabul in 2010 would help outline a framework so that Afghans can play a greater role in shaping their own destiny.

As Afghans waited for the president to announce his new caibnet and for parliament to ratify the names, UNAMA Spokesperson Aleem Siddique said at a press conference at the end of the month that "Afghanistan needs competent cabinet ministers who are able to deliver for the Afghan people. And in this respect the Special Representative, in particular has made it clear that we do need to see more reform-orientated ministers and we need to see technocrat people who are able to deliver public services for the Afghan people."

By Kangying Guo, UNAMA