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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 23:32 GMT
Afghanistan omitted from US aid budget
Kabul beggars
Afghans are still struggling to survive

The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in its latest budget.

One mantra from the Bush administration since it launched its military campaign in Afghanistan 16 months ago has been that the US will not walk away from the Afghan people.

President Bush has even suggested a Marshall plan for the country, and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, will visit Washington later this month.

US soldier cradles a malnourished infant during a humanitarian aid medical mission in Makwan Afghanistan
Washington has pledged not to forget Afghanistan
But in its budget proposals for 2003, the White House did not explicitly ask for any money to aid humanitarian and reconstruction costs in the impoverished country.

The chairman of the committee that distributes foreign aid, Jim Kolbe, says that when he asked administration officials why they had not requested any funds, he was given no satisfactory explanation, but did get a pledge that it would not happen again.

'Too early'

A spokesman for the US Agency for International Development, which distributes the money, says the reason they did not make a request was that when budgetary discussions began in 2002, it was too early to say how much money they would need.

Jim Kolbe has expressed surprise at the administration's oversight.

The US will spend over $16bn in foreign aid this year.

The main beneficiaries will be Israel, Jordan and a number of anti-Aids programmes.

However, Mr Kolbe says that should there be a military conflict in Iraq, he believes the US will have to find billions more, not only to help Iraq, but also Turkey, Jordan and Israel.


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03 Jun 02 | Business
06 May 02 | Business
21 Mar 02 | Business
31 May 02 | South Asia
06 Nov 02 | Business
17 Dec 02 | South Asia
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