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UN beefs up its assistance mission

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan will double its presence in the country
(Ebadi/WFP )

The UN is to double the budget of its Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), raising the number of international staff from 1,500 to 2,000 to improve service delivery, aid effectiveness and donor coordination.



UNAMA will get "larger, stronger and more robust" in 2009 in order to avoid duplication, inconsistency and lack of coherence in international assistance, according to Kai Eide, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Afghanistan.



"We must reach out to Afghans," Eide told reporters in Kabul on 17 December, adding that he was "profoundly" frustrated to see that UN agencies did not have access to all needy communities and were unable to meet their needs.



Eide said more international experts would be brought into the country to boost UNAMA's capacity and ensure better coordination among various donors.



"It's not only a question of recruiting quantity, but also… quality," said Eide who is the fourth head of UNAMA since the mission was established by the UN Security Council after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.



Challenges



The UN is redoubling its efforts to remedy the shortcomings and mistakes made by too many development players over the past seven years, and in the face of a significant increase in the number and magnitude of challenges facing the country and its international supporters.



"We have limited access to significant parts of the country," Eide told IRIN.



A recent study by the International Council on Security and Development - though controversial - suggested that the Taliban now has a permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan.



What is certain is that humanitarian and development access to almost half of Afghanistan has been impeded by worsening insecurity and increasing attacks on aid workers.



At least 28 aid workers (23 Afghans and 5 foreigners) were killed and 72 were abducted (68 Afghans and 4 foreigners) across the country from January to September 2008, according to the Afghanistan NGOs Safety Office (ANSO).



"Donors' coordination cell"



Over US$16 billion of international aid has poured into the country since 2002, but aid agencies such as Oxfam International have warned that “too much aid to Afghanistan is wasted.”



Corruption and a lack of coherence and transparency in development projects are seen as major problems, experts say.



Since taking up his job in April, Eide has consistently called for "coordination and effectiveness" in international assistance. He now says there is a need for a single "donors' coordination cell", where representatives of all donors should share relevant information, ensure coherence and coordinate priorities.



"Coordination is a shared responsibility," said Eide, adding that donors must work in line with Afghan government plans and priorities.



An International Crisis Group report updated in August 2008 indicated that such coordination might be difficult to achieve: "Great hopes have been placed on a strengthened mandate for the United Nations and a new Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) although there are more calls for coordination than players willing to be coordinated."



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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