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UN Establishes Afghan Government Fund - 2001-12-19

The United Nations has established a special fund to assist in the start-up of the new interim government in Afghanistan.

The fund, expected to amount to as much as $20 million, will be used to provide basic needs to the new Afghan authorities that formally take office this Saturday. The money will be used to pay staff salaries and buy supplies such as office equipment, furniture and vehicles.

The fund, which will be administered by the U.N. Development Program, will also support the initial establishment of civil service, judicial and human rights commissions in Afghanistan as well as pay teachers' salaries. Julia Taft, the assistant administrator of the Development Program, told reporters that, although the money will be disbursed by the United Nations, the decisions on how to spend it will be made by the Afghans. "The whole philosophy is that the Afghans themselves must be in charge of their future," she said. "So to the extent we can help under-gird their ability to do that, we want to do that with their guidance, their involvement."

Ms. Taft says the start-up fund for Afghanistan will be operational for just six months and is not intended for reconstruction activities. The U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, praised the fund as an indication that the international community is committed to an "independent and sustainable" government in Afghanistan.