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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Aid donors 'failing Afghanistan'
Ruins in Kabul
Reconstruction is progressing slowly due to lack of funds
Foreign donors are failing to pay a promised $4.5bn aid package aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan, the country's reconstruction minister has claimed.

"The world community promises a lot but pays out less," reconstruction minister Amin Fahang told the AFP news agency, warning failure to meet the commitments could result in more chaos.

The world forgot about Afghanistan and as a result we had 11 September and the Taliban. If they forget us again the roots of terrorism, which has not gone away, will grow again

Amin Fahang
Afghan Reconstruction Minister
"We were promised $1.8bn this year, but half the year is nearly gone and we have only received around $80m to $90m," he said.

The interim administration was pledged $4.5bn over five years at an international donors' conference in Tokyo in January, $1.8bn of which was due this year.

Mr Fahang, who lived in Germany for 20 years, is expected to raise the issue on Thursday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the first western leader to visit Kabul since the fall of the Taliban.

The promise of aid came after US-led forces forced Afghanistan's former Taliban leaders out of power in November last year.

Terror warning

"I have been in this post for five months now and I can estimate that the cost of reconstructing Afghanistan is $15bn over a 10-15 year period," he said, adding that this would return Afghanistan only to where it was before the Russian invasion 23 years ago.

Donors conference in Tokyo in January
Donors promised $4.5bn in Tokyo
"The world forgot about Afghanistan and as a result we had 11 September and the Taliban. If they forget us again the roots of terrorism, which has not gone away, will grow again," he warned.

The government has placed security, education, health care and road improvements at the top of its reconstruction agenda.

"If we had had the money that we have been promised we could have done a lot more for the refugees," Mr Fahang said.

"People who are returning from abroad have nothing. We want to provide them with housing but they have to set up homes in the slums of Kabul."

An estimated 400,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan and Iran in the last few weeks.

Donors meet

Afghanistan's reconstruction will feature highly on the agenda of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) 35th annual meeting this week in Shanghai, China.

The ADB has pledged $500m over two-and-a-half years for farms, schools, roads and power generation, with the first $200m expected to be released after August.

Meanwhile, Afghan Finance Minister Hedayat Amin Arsala has arrived in Pakistan for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz.

The talks are expected to focus on the reconstruction effort and Pakistan's pledge of $100m in aid.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave a $10m cheque to Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai during a visit to Kabul in April.

Islamabad is hoping to cut down on smuggling and boost trade with Kabul following the collapse of the Taliban in November.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby
"Afghanistan's population could be facing another crisis"
See also:

03 May 02 | Business
US restores Afghan trade privileges
09 Apr 02 | Business
'Rapid recovery' for Afghanistan
21 Mar 02 | Business
Afghanistan's new economic start
15 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Afghanistan
08 Jan 02 | South Asia
In pictures: Afghans face starvation
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