[Hpn] UN Puts Afghan Relief Aid Before Nation-Building

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 21 Oct 2001 00:28:23 -0700 (PDT)

LINK below leads to related news and web sites: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011016/wl/attack_afghan_un_dc_1.html FWD Tuesday October 16 8:25 PM ET - Reuters UN PUTS AFGHAN RELIEF AID BEFORE NATION-BUILDING By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations <http://www.un.org> on Tuesday advocated getting massive aid into Afghanistan during U.S. bombings and explored what to do about a broad-based government of squabbling factions, especially if the ruling Taliban collapses. Any suggestions by the Afghan resistance of U.N. peacekeepers are pushed far in the future, U.N. officials and diplomats said after a meeting of 15 Security Council members with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan. Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and veteran U.N. trouble-shooter has the primary role in shaping a future government from the factions of the Afghan resistance and probably elements of the Taliban. ``We're not rushing into anything, including peacekeeping, but not ruling it out down the road,'' British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said after the council meeting. ``The focus is on humanitarian aid.'' Council President Richard Ryan of Ireland said Brahimi's first task was to establish a land corridor for aid delivery. He said it was understood such pathways would be safe from allied bombs. The United Nations has used trucks and even donkeys to get basic supplies to Afghanistan, where as many as 7.5 million people of a population of 24 million face starvation or homelessness. With the Taliban harassing foreign aid officials, relief operations have been left in the hands of local staff, some of whom have been beaten for their ties to the United Nations. U.S. warplanes over the past 10 days struck targets across Afghanistan, including its capital of Kabul, in search of terrorist networks, held responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States, as well as their Taliban allies. Those attacks killed about 5,400 people in the United States. But time may not be on the side of the United Nations, which President Bush wants to take the lead in reconstructing Afghanistan. Since 1996, Afghanistan has been run by the purist Taliban, from the country's large Pashtun ethnic group. ``We need to be nimble,'' Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) told the council. Certain, however, is that the United States cannot go in and lead any nation-building exercise and will have to work through the United Nations after the military campaign. At the same time, the United Nations is careful not to get out in front of the United States, and Brahimi intends to go to Washington this week before seeing council members again, diplomats reported. A senior U.N. official said major questions now were, ''What is going to happen to the Taliban? Is it going to collapse? Is there going to be a Pashtun insurgency? Is there going to be an insurrection? The security aspect is crucial and that is mind boggling.'' Brahimi's tasks are to speed up humanitarian assistance, help Afghans put together a functioning government and then help organize long-term reconstruction of the battered central Asian nation. Opposing the Taliban is the Northern Alliance, made up of various factions, that could possibly take over Kabul, although many of its leading commanders oppose such a move until there is an international deal. Any ruling group has to be acceptable to neighboring Pakistan, which helped organize, and whose military supported, the Taliban over the past decade. The United States and other neighbors of Afghanistan appear to lean toward the exiled former 86-year-old king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, as a figurehead to convene a grand council of elders or Loya Jirga. But the nominal head of Afghanistan, Barhanuddin Rabbani, an ex-president still recognized by the United Nations, has indicated he would not support the king. Instead, Rabbani wants to take office again, a move strongly opposed by many of his allies. END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************