Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for an immediate infusion of funds into Afghanistan to facilitate the reconstruction process. Donor countries have already pledged $20 million in initial assistance for reconstruction efforts, but Afghan reconstruction minister Mohammed Amin Farhang has said that little aid has actually reached the country. The Afghan interim government desperately needs start-up funds to buy even basic supplies like telephones, desks, chairs, and heaters. Funds are especially needed for the extremely important Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a new ministry that has no pre-existing resources or supplies, if it is to be effective. “You need a modest amount of capital in days Ð not weeks, not months, but days,” said Biden who visited Kabul last week. In addition to funding, Biden also called for a “robust multinational military force” including U.S. military troops to support the new Afghan interim government by helping to secure order. Without such a military force, said Biden, “I don’t see much of a shot for this country.”
The Bush Administration has not made a commitment to having a long-term military presence in Afghanistan. The U.S. will, however, participate in a conference in Tokyo next week with more than 50 donor countries to discuss a funding strategy for Afghan reconstruction. Officials from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Program estimate that at least $15 billion will be necessary to finance the first 10 years of Afghan reconstruction. This figure, however, does not include humanitarian assistance, including much needed supplies of food and medicine. Officials in Kabul have cited that their reconstruction plan will require around $45 billion to be implemented.