WASHINGTON (AP) Secretary of State Colin Powell appealed yesterday for fast action to feed, clothe, house and educate the 25 million people of war-torn Afghanistan.

“We have a noble task before us,” he said as representatives of 21 nations and the European Union met for one day to consider assistance.

It is also an expensive, long-haul task. U.N. development administrator Mark Malloch Brown said Monday he could not estimate the cost, but he likened it to a rescue operation in Mozambique that cost $6.5 billion.

The World Bank and other lending institutions will meet in Islamabad, Pakistan, at the end of the month, and a steering committee headed by the United States, Japan, the European Union and Saudi Arabia will meet in Europe in December to define projects. Foreign ministers of the 21 nations will meet in Japan in January. The twin aims are “quick-hitting projects” like shelter, roads and agriculture, as well as long-term projects, Undersecretary of State Alan Larson said at the end of the “extraordinary, significant conference.”

On a hopeful note, a senior official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said there was enough food to get the Afghan people through the winter. He said it would be distributed in their villages to minimize further dislocation of people.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.