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11/7/02 - PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN - 2002-11-07

A failed state doesn’t recover overnight. But since the fall of the Taleban in December 2001, Afghanistan has made considerable progress.

The number of returning refugees anticipated in the first year by the United Nations was eight-hundred-thousand. But more than two-million Afghan refugees and another three-hundred-thousand displaced persons have returned to their homes. More than three-million Afghan boys and girls are attending reopened schools. And three-million Afghan children have been vaccinated against measles.

As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Arthur Dewey said, “It’s like a new world in Afghanistan.” But the U.S. is still concerned about meeting the needs of the returnees. Without continued help, drought, food shortages, and security concerns could make it difficult for the people of Afghanistan to rebuild.

Agricultural production has increased in some areas that have received rain, but Afghanistan is still unable to feed itself. The U.S. estimates that more than six-million Afghans still need food assistance. Since October 1st, 2001, the U.S. has provided more than five-hundred-eighty-million dollars in assistance to Afghanistan.

Humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan -– food, shelter, and medical care –- is an investment in the country. As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dewey said, “These are people with all the energy and all the confidence.... They are the base of reconstruction.”

The U.S. is committed to maintaining progress in Afghanistan. “The momentum is still there,” said Mr. Dewey, “and we have to keep it there. The investment must be protected. The consequences of not protecting it are unthinkable.”