Afghanistan was one of the poorest countries in the world under the Taliban. After years of warfare and civil strife, mass famine was stalking the countryside as the war against al-Qaeda began. The task of rebuilding the country and its infrastructure is a massive undertaking. Although UN agencies like the World Bank have pledged billions in aid, work is going slowly. Recently Afghanistan appealed to its thousands of refugees to return home to help rebuild the country, and invest in its future. But continuing political instability and disagreements between ethnic groups are hampering reconstruction.