Introducing the document, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN
undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, said the next 12
months were critical if the peace process to set up a
democratic government is to succeed.

The process began in Bonn two years ago. 

"Unchecked criminality, outbreaks of factional fighting and
activities surrounding the illegal narcotics trade have all had
a negative impact on the Bonn process," said the report from
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. 

The report, covering developments from July 2002 to November 2003, was released as hundreds of Afghans came to the capital Kabul for an assembly to adopt a new constitution and as the United States continued an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

"The international community must decide whether to
increase its level of involvement in Afghanistan or risk
failure," Annan said in the report. 

Bonn Conference

The United Nations organised a conference in Bonn in
December 2001, shortly after the United States toppled the
Taliban from rule for harboring Usama bin Laden.

But Annan cautioned in the report that fighters were
regaining ground, striking at United Nations and other relief
workers.

"The increase in attacks on United Nations' staff and
other international and Afghan civilians engaged in providing
assistance and furthering the peace process is a matter of the utmost concern," he said.

"The international community must decide whether to increase its level of involvement in Afghanistan or risk
failure"

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

Annan also said he wanted another conference to follow up
the Bonn peace process and try to keep Afghanistan from
regressing and "regenerate the political and financial support
necessary for a full political and economic transition." 

Positive developments

A US air strike over the weekend that was directed against a guerrilla commander but killed nine children added "to a sense of insecurity and fear in the country," according to Lakhdar Brahimi, the head of UN operations in Afghanistan.

But there have been some positive developments, the UN
official said. For example, 829,000 more schoolchildren this
year are back in classrooms. 

And 2.5 million people received repatriation aid, he said, saying the refugees would not have returned if the situation had not improved. Still, six million Afghanis will need food aid for the rest of 2003.

But clan divisions remain a thorny problem. "Many Afghans
continue to believe that real power remains in the hands of a
single faction," the report said.