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NGOs Ask Japan to Help in Afghanistan - 2001-12-11

Nongovernmental organizations from Afghanistan and Japan opened three days of talks in Tokyo Tuesday to discuss support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Initial estimates suggest that more than $10 billion will be required to rebuild the war-torn country.

About 30 NGOs from Afghanistan are asking Japan to provide their country with immediate and sustained assistance.

In a meeting to discuss the country's reconstruction, Afghan groups say that after more than 20 years of war, help is badly needed in clearing landmines, re-establishing schools and caring for refugees. The groups are also discussing how to improve agriculture and health in one of the four poorest countries in the world.

Azizurrahman Rafiee, an official from a coordinating body for the Afghan NGOs, told conference participants Tuesday that he hoped Japan would provide training to help the Afghanistan achieve long-term, sustainable development. He suggests that Japan could train people to become teachers, police officers and doctors.

About 200 people are attending the three-day meeting in Tokyo. In addition to representatives from aid groups, Japanese lawmakers and government representatives from the United States, Britain, Germany and Russia are taking part.

Dr. Ahmad Pardes, from the Afghan Help and Training Program, says "the gathering is an effort to encourage the international community to collectively take part in rehabilitating the country."

The participants intend to draw up specific proposals ahead of a ministerial meeting of Afghanistan's donor countries, which is being held in Tokyo next month.