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Annan Warns Afghan Reconstruction Efforts Could Fail - 2003-12-09

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report to the U.N. General Assembly, warns that international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan are in danger of failure. Mr. Annan is suggesting a second Bonn conference to renew international support for the struggling Afghan government.

The Secretary-General says Afghanistan's reconstruction is under threat.

Days before the lawmaking Loya Jirga convenes in Kabul to adopt a constitution, Mr. Annan is painting a bleak picture of a country where security is deteriorating, regional factions are fighting, al-Qaida terrorists are regrouping and criminals are operating freely, all flush with cash from the illegal narcotics trade.

Briefing reporters on the Secretary-General's report, U.N. Peacekeeping Operations director Jean Marie Guehenno noted a disturbing trend of attacks on U.N. personnel. He said criminals clearly view the world body as a threat to their multi-billion-dollar drug operations. "I think there is certainly an organization operating in Afghanistan that wants to discourage foreign presence in Afghanistan, and our effort is to make sure these organizations don't have support from the population," he said.

The Secretary-General's report suggests another international gathering is needed to renew financial and political support for Afghanistan, similar to the Bonn conference of 2001.

Peacekeeping Operations Director Guehenno said despite all the bad news, U.N. analysts continue to be hopeful. "Our view remains that with further engagement of the international community we can make decisive progress, but it is clear the next 12 months are going to be critical," she said.

Mr. Guehenno said more resources are needed for the international security force in Afghanistan, known as ISAF, to allow it to expand its mission.

The Secretary-General's report warns that in the absence of security, and renewed international support, failure in Afghanistan remains a real possibility.