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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 01:05 GMT 02:05 UK
New millions for Afghan security
Afghan soldiers march past with flowers in their rifles
The funds are to help Afghanistan build up its army
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By the BBC's Pam O'Toole

A donors meeting in Geneva is said to have produced informal pledges worth tens of millions of dollars towards reconstructing Afghanistan's security services - enough, the UN says, to make a start on a number of security-related projects.

Lakhdar Brahimi
Brahimi: Enough cash to start an army
The meeting, attended by around 35 donor countries, the UN's special representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and Afghanistan's Interim Foreign Minister, Abdullah Abdullah, was aimed at firming up offers of assistance to help Afghanistan rebuild its army, police force and other security services.

Mr Brahimi, refused to reveal figures, pointing out that offers and commitments had been made verbally and in a piecemeal fashion.

But sources say the amount involved was substantial.

A number of donors offered to provide training, money to pay salaries or to provide Afghanistan's future army with specific items like communications equipment or jeeps.

Japan agreed to take the lead, along with the United Nations, in developing schemes to demobilise large numbers of armed men and indicated its willingness to provide funds.

'Special case'

The UN says it still needs to see all these pledges in writing.

Nevertheless, it believes progress is being made.

Mr Brahimi told a press conference that he felt there was now enough cash to begin forming a national Afghan army and police force, and to launch demobilisation and anti-narcotics programmes.

Nevertheless, as the US co-ordinator for Afghanistan, David Johnson, pointed out, there is still some way to go.

The UN estimates the various security programmes will cost around $500m overall.

And donors have traditionally been reluctant to contribute to building armies, preferring to concentrate on humanitarian or reconstruction projects.

Nevertheless, many donors recognise that Afghanistan is a special case; that reconstruction will remain problematic until the interim government is given the means to quell the lawlessness and sporadic fighting which continues in various parts of the country.

See also:

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Spending the billions
06 May 02 | Business
Aid donors 'failing Afghanistan'
17 May 02 | South Asia
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14 May 02 | South Asia
Afghan returnees 'swamp' Kabul
11 May 02 | South Asia
Afghan refugees return home
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