Photo taken on Nov. 27, 2018 shows a general view of the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The two-day Geneva Conference on Afghanistan to renew a process of development and reform began here on Tuesday, with an official from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noting that progress in the country has been better than expected. (Xinhua/POOL/Denis Balibouse)
GENEVA, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — The two-day Geneva Conference on Afghanistan to renew a process of development and reform began here on Tuesday, with an official from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noting that progress in the country has been better than expected.
Toby Lanzer, Deputy Special Representative for UNAMA, said at a UN media briefing that Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani opened the first side event of the conference on the empowerment of women on Tuesday.
The conference will assess progress since a pledging conference held in Brussels in 2016 and will be crucial in measuring results against the 15.2 billion U.S. dollar committed by the international community for Afghanistan in 2016, said the UN official.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had arrived in Geneva and will attend the conference on Wednesday.
“On the reform agenda there has quicker and better progress than had been envisaged. IMF benchmarks have not only been met; they have been exceeded. Security reform has outpaced what we had expected,” Lanzer said.
But he also mentioned the situation of “ongoing violence” and “worst drought in a lifetime.”
And he noted that the real war in Afghanistan is “the war on poverty”.
The UN official said 3.6 million people in Afghanistan are in a level of food insecurity which is “one step away from famine.”
“Afghanistan is not quite where it wants to be yet,” said Lanzer, but noted that more women are in high posts than ever before, and the country has a higher number of women in the parliament than in many countries.
Among those expected to attend the conference are Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the European Union high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini, the Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and high-level representatives from some 60 countries.
The UN said the goal of the conference is to show the international community’s solidarity with the Afghan people and the government in their peace and prosperity efforts, and for the Afghan government to renew its commitment to development and reform.