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1/20/03 - REBUILDING AFGHANISTAN - 2003-01-21

Since October 1st, 2001, the United States has committed nearly eight-hundred-million dollars in humanitarian and reconstruction aid to help the people of Afghanistan.

The U.S. is assisting the Afghan government in creating a national army. The U.S. is helping to reconstruct the main commercial road linking the Afghan cities of Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. Since April 2002, more than four-million Afghan children have been immunized against measles thanks to U.S. support. And this month, the U.S. announced two-and-a-half million dollars to be used to construct fourteen women’s centers in Afghanistan, and an additional one million dollars for training women in business management, political participation, and education.

The U.S. is investing more than thirty-eight million dollars to help the Afghan people strengthen civic institutions. A justice system is being established, the central bank is being rehabilitated, and government financial management systems are being reformed.

U.S. support for the Afghan National Human Rights Commission was just announced, including human rights training for the military, police, and other personnel, and for the dissemination of information regarding religious freedom and the rights of women. The U.S. is supporting efforts to investigate human rights abuses, whether committed by the ousted Taleban, by al-Qaida terrorists, or by Afghan warlords.

In 2001, under the Taleban, most Afghan children did not attend school. In the first year of freedom, three million youngsters are back in classrooms -- thirty-five percent of them were girls. The U.S. has helped rebuild or restore more than two-hundred schools and has provided refresher training to more than thirteen-hundred teachers in Kabul. In addition, with financial assistance from the U.S., universities in Afghanistan are re-opening.

As President George W. Bush said, “We liberated [Afghanistan] from the clutches of a barbaric regime.” In Afghanistan, said Mr. Bush, “The institutions necessary for the development of a peaceful, hopeful country are going to be put in place. . . . We will stay the course to help that country develop -- in their image, not in ours.”