US, UN plan initiatives to help Afghanistan rebuild

WASHINGTON: The US government and the United Nations are helping Afghanistan rebuild its reputation as American troops plan to withdraw from the country next year.

WASHINGTON: The US government and the United Nations are helping Afghanistan rebuild its reputation as American troops plan to withdraw from the country next year.

During his State of the Union address last month, President Barack Obama said the US will remove 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next February. As the country prepares, the US State Department is hoping to launch the “Afghanistan is getting better” outreach program this year.

The effort will include creating, designing, and promoting a standalone website or dedicated channel on YouTube that will allow people from Afghanistan and around the world to upload videos describing how they are personally contributing to the betterment of the country. It will also show the ways in which Afghanistan offers opportunities that didn't previously exist, according to RFP documents.

“This website will be used by all forms of media and the public to show an accurate and hopeful picture of Afghanistan 12 years after liberation from the Taliban,” RFP documents say. The two-year contract is worth $250,000. RFPs are due March 25.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Program is reviewing proposals for a firm that will conduct a public perception survey of Afghanistan's justice sector. It will also look at the communications issues that need to be addressed to launch a public education campaign to raise legal awareness and trust in justice services, according to an RFP.

Afghanistan's justice system is facing significant challenges as its physical infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged by fighting or decay during the last several years of conflict. Nearly all (97.8%) of Afghanistan's legal buildings are in need of construction or rehabilitation, according to RFP documents.

In addition, “threatening of justice officials, particularly in the less secure regions of the country is absolutely commonplace, and assassinations are very common,” the RFP says.

Still the government there wants to bolster the credibility of the justice system because it recognizes it plays a major role in resolving conflicts.

Neither the State Department nor the United Nations Development Program returned a request for comment.

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