Afghan mission extended by UN Security Council

The UN Security Council says it has extended its political mission in Afghanistan by one year because it is helping to promote peace and stability in the troubled country.

Officials say resolution gives 'strong signal of support' to people who work for mission

The UN Security Council has extended itspolitical mission in Afghanistan by one year because it says it is helpingto promotepeace and stability in the troubled country.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution on Friday that extends the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, until March 23, 2008.

The mission is helping the international community in its efforts to create a more secure Afghanistan and to protect and promote human rights by monitoring the situation of civilians in armed conflict, the council said in a release.

Tom Koenigs, head of the mission,said earlier this week thatcountries around the world must do more to help Afghanistan, increase security and root out the drug trade in a bid to offset a resurgence by the Taliban.

"Afghanistan is not a post-conflict country. It's a country in conflict. One can even put it more dramatically — it’s a post-devastation state facing a war of insurgency," Koenigs said at a news conference on Monday. "Afghanistan needs stability, it needs peace, governance and development."

The mission, created in March 2002 by a UN Security Council resolution, was originally given the mandate of supporting the process of rebuilding and national reconciliation in Afghanistan. Its mandate is renewed annually.

Its current mandate is to provide advice for the peace process in Afghanistan, promote human rights, provide technical assistance, and manage all UN humanitarian relief, recovery, reconstruction and development activities with the help of the Afghan government.

The missionalso assists the Afghan government in implementing the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year plan launched last year that lays out goals for security, governance and development.

The council said that the decision to extend the UNAMA's mandate is a "strong signal of support" to the people who work for the mission. The resolution points a new way forward, it said.

The mission, directed and supported by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has about 1,000 staff people, about 80 per cent of whom are Afghan nationals.

Its main office is in Kabul, withmore than 10regional offices around the country. It maintains two liaison offices in Islamabad and Tehran.

According to the resolution adopted Friday, the council calls upon the Afghan government, with the help of the U.S. forces and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, to continue to deal with the threat posed to Afghanistan by extremist groups, including the Taliban.

Canada has more than 2,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of ISAF, a coalition of more than 30,000 soldiers from 37 countries.