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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 00:51 GMT
Afghan renewal 'will come from within'
The ruined village of Qara Bagh near Kabul
Afghanistan is in ruins after years of war
Greg Barrow

The United Nations official who will handle efforts to reconstruct the economy and infrastructure of Afghanistan says he expects Afghan people to take the lead in rebuilding their country.

Mark Malloch-Brown, head of the UN Development Programme, said if efforts to establish a new broad-based government succeeded he did not want the UN to do anything that would undermine the Afghan leadership.

There are going to be far fewer expatriate workers in white four-wheel drive vehicles. This is going to be very much an Afghan-led and managed process

UN Development Programme head
He said the UN's role in reconstruction would be very different to its work in countries like Cambodia and East Timor.

In those countries the UN deployed large numbers of international staff to help the process of reconstruction.

In Afghanistan the UN is clearly trying to adapt its approach to this complex new scenario.

Just as the UN is encouraging Afghans to take the lead in the political process, so too it wants them to take on the challenge of rebuilding their country after years of war.

UN's supporting role

On the political and developmental front the UN sees its role as a facilitator, ready to offer advice and raise funds to help revitalise the country's shattered infrastructure and economy.

Mr Malloch-Brown says that once the reconstruction process gets under way, it will be unlike anything the UN has done before.

"I would argue that this is going to look very different to the operations we are all used to such as East Timor or Cambodia," he said.

Woman collects aid from a UN base in Kabul
Humanitarian aid is starting to get through
"There are going to be far fewer expatriate workers in white four-wheel drive vehicles. This is going to be very much an Afghan-led and managed process."

Mr Malloch-Brown said Afghans had a huge political and cultural preference to do things themselves.

Once a new administration is established, he said, the UN's role should be to re-enforce, rather than undermine the Afghan leadership.

But he warned that if efforts to form a new government failed it would be inconceivable for sustained development to take place.

See also:

21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Nations unite to rebuild Afghanistan
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What will Afghan talks produce?
15 Nov 01 | South Asia
UN passes resolution on Afghan rule
15 Nov 01 | South Asia
Race to prevent Afghan disintegration
16 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan powerbrokers: Who's who
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Rabbani's Afghan comeback
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