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Some Question If Billions Pledged For Afghanistan Will Be Enough - 2002-01-22


An international conference on rebuilding Afghanistan wraps up Tuesday in Tokyo. Donors have so far pledged more than $3-billion to help the war-ravaged country.

The United States, Japan and other donors made their offers Monday, as Kabul's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, vowed to create a credible government to undertake the enormous task of rebuilding Afghanistan after more than 20 years of civil war, Soviet occupation and brutal rule by the Taleban.

"I stand before you today as the citizen of a country that has had nothing but disaster, war, brutality and deprivation against its people for so many years," he said.

Donors at the conference agreed that rebuilding Afghanistan is vital, and some nations have earmarked their funds to be used for specific purposes. The United States says its $296-million donation should be used for food aid, disaster assistance and helping refugees. Tokyo says its $500-million-aid package will focus on resettling displaced people, improving education and health care, the empowerment of women and the removal of land mines.

Many of Afghanistan's neighbors also promised aid funds. India and Pakistan each pledged $100-million, while Iran offered $560-million, to be distributed to Afghanistan over a five-year period.

Kamal Kharrazi is Iran's foreign minister. "They are at the beginning, actually. They have to establish different institutions and overcome poverty," he said. "They have to have many different services, such as health and education. All of these are obstacles, and until the permanent government is established, all different steps have to be taken."

With the conference now in its second day, delegates say questions remain about whether the funds raised will be sufficient to help the devastated nation, where clean water is considered a luxury and few people have electricity.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told delegates Monday the Afghanistan will need at least $10-billion over the next five years to recover.

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