Top UN official for Afghanistan arrives in Kabul



New York: The new UN mission chief for Afghanistan arrived in Kabul to take over the reins of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Promising to help improve the lives of the Afghan people, Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura said, "The UN has been associated with Afghanistan's history and its people for many years".

"We're involved not only with assisting the political stability of Afghanistan, but also with many other activities in the social and economic sphere", de Mistura, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) said.

"The Afghan people have suffered a lot and endured many difficult times. They deserve international support, but they deserve above all a better future. The UN will do its part," he added.

A citizen of both Sweden and Italy, de Mistura, is a 63-year-old diplomat who has served as a UN representative, over 30 years, in several countries including Iraq, Somalia and Nepal. His last position was as the deputy executive director of the World Food Programme.

"I learned and I am familiar with the traditions and culture of Afghanistan. I am totally aware of the fact that the Afghan people are very proud people, very attached to their traditions and sovereignty, and I'll be working along those lines," he said.

The former UNAMA head Kai Eide had warned that this was a make or break year in Afghanistan. "This year, of course, will be the most challenging for Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban," he said. "And I will say that it's a year where negative trends have to be reversed, or they will become irreversible."

Eide is a Norwegian, whose appointment in 2008 came under criticism for not being tough and transparent about the allegations of fraud and vote rigging made by Karzai camp during the Presidential Elections.

Afghanistan is slated to hold Parliamentary Election in September, this year.

PTI