KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — International donors reaffirmed pledges of $16 billion in support for Afghanistan on Wednesday, while expressing concern about corruption there.
Representatives from about 40 countries and eight aid agencies announced the confirmation of commitments made in Tokyo last year to provide the economic assistance to Afghanistan through 2015 after meeting with Afghan officials.
But U.N. deputy special representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, told reporters that the donor nations had also emphasized the need to clamp down on corruption.
“I think there is a concern from the international community that corruption needs to be addressed seriously,” he said. “It was an area that was raised as one of the key confidence building measures.”
Bowden said donor nations also “treated very extensively” the issue of ensuring respect for human rights.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a top Afghan government adviser, acknowledged that corruption is a problem, saying it needs to be addressed at a regional, national and international level.
“The average Afghan citizen hates corruption,” he said. “This gives a name internationally that is simply not acceptable and puts future assistance in jeopardy… It’s extremely important that we spend accountably, transparently, effectively and efficiently.”
In New York, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, just back from five days in Afghanistan for high-level briefings, said that donor nations have legitimate expectations of Afghanistan, “primarily to have the elections take place as planned for April next year,” and to pass fair election laws. He said parliamentary leaders assured him that election laws would be adopted this month.
President Hamid Karzai is due to complete his term, and no clear front-runner to succeed him has emerged.
The 2009 election was tainted by massive voter fraud, and about 1 million ballots were invalidated.
Eliasson noted that about 1,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in the war this year and more than 2,000 wounded, “an increase in civilian casualties over the same period in 2012.”
“One thing that came back in all of my meetings was the importance of protecting the achievements of the past decade,” he said. “The country must not fall back into the nightmares of war, the extreme poverty and violations of human rights that we saw earlier.”
Associated Press writer Peter James Spielmann contributed from the United Nations.