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Afghan reconstruction to take more time
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Friday, 17 January 2003
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EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten told the European Parliament Jan. 15 the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan would be a "long haul" as "rebuilding a cohesive state will take time, as will improving unacceptably low levels of education and health care." The EUs 17-million-euro (dollar) refugee return plan envisages 1,500 Afghans going home a month from April. EU interior and justice ministers agreed on a voluntary return, while not ruling out forced repatriation. However, the Afghan government has already warned that it is unable to cope with the hundreds of thousands returning home under a program organized by the UNHCR. In other news, Human Rights Watch said Jan. 15 that newly announced rules on female education in the western Afghan province of Herat prohibit men from teaching women or girls in private educational courses and uphold strict gender segregation in all schools. Because of a shortage of female teachers, the restrictions will result in a severe limitation on the ability of women and girls to receive proper education, said HRW.
 
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