United Nations Doubles Aid Budget

KABUL, December 17 (AFP): The United Nations said Wednesday it will double the budget of its Afghan mission next year, taking on hundreds of new staff and opening more offices to meet more "complex" challenges.

For 2009 its budget will be 150-160 million dollars, up from 81 million dollars in 2008.

"(The 2009 budget) will be, in fact, double our current budget, and allow us to raise the number of our personnel from 1,500 to 2,000," said Kai Eide, the UN secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan.

Eide stressed the importance of foreign workers in Afghanistan reflecting the concerns of ordinary people, and called for greater cooperation between the country's military and international forces here.

"I believe that Afghans should always be in front. The Afghans are better aware of their cultural sensitivities... and cultural sensitivity is critically important," he said.

"There is a need for greater integration, better cooperation and better operational cohesion (of military forces)."