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Afghanistan: World Bank Says $15 Billion Needed Over 10 Years

Islamabad, 8 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A World Bank official said today that more than $15 billion in international aid is needed during the next 10 years for reconstruction in Afghanistan. The World Bank's Abid Hassan said $1-$2 billion is needed each year during the next decade to rebuild basic infrastructure in the war-torn country -- including hospitals, water supply networks, electrical plants, and schools.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said during an overnight visit at the Bagram air base near Kabul that the international community is committed to providing long-term reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.

Blair said he expects to start seeing aid pledges when potential donors meet at a conference in Tokyo on 21 and 22 January. "The conference that will take place shortly in Tokyo, which I think will be a high-level conference of all the major partners in the international coalition -- I think that will demonstrate very clearly that people are not going to walk away [from Afghanistan]."

Antonio Donini, head of the United Nations Development Program for Afghanistan, said major reconstruction work is not likely to start until an assessment survey is completed in about three months time.