UN appeals for urgent funds to help Afghan Interim Administration

Speaking at a meeting of the Afghanistan Support Group in Kabul, the senior United Nations envoy in the country told representatives of 15 donor nations and the European Commission that while future donations were welcome, present contributions were also urgently needed. “We thank you for your billions but we need your millions today,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. Mr. Brahimi also emphasized that the Afghan Interim Administration was “in dire need of funds now, [for] the Civil Service and police, and to get the country going, and to get this Administration functioning,” a spokesman for the envoy told reporters after the meeting. “We have started to help the Interim Administration with the basics, and we spoke about that some time ago: cars, desks, chairs, window panes, doors, paper clips, telephones, you name it, they need it,” said spokesman Ahmad Fawzi. “Donor countries need to realize that the infrastructure here was totally demolished and that we are starting from zero,” Mr. Fawzi stressed, adding, “This is like no other operation that we have been faced with before, and there are things that need to be done now, not five years from now – this Administration cannot wait for another five years for the billions to come in.” The spokesman noted that many governments had made pledges and offered expressions of support. “There have been delays in depositing the funds, and it could be bureaucracy – if so, then it is the bureaucracy that we have to get rid of in this case, because lives are at stake,” he said. “The whole country is at stake.” According to Mr. Fawzi, Afghanistan needs $100 million immediately, including $70 million to pay back – and future – salaries for some 235,000 civil servants who had not been paid for six to seven months. “If this Administration is going to have any credibility with the people of Afghanistan it will have to be able to pay the salaries of the civil servants of Afghanistan,” he explained. The remaining funds were needed “to prop up the Administration logistically and physically,” he added.

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