The Security Council on 17 September 2004 voted to extend the mandate of the international troop force in Afghanistan for another year and called upon countries to commit more personnel and funds so that it could work more effectively. Extending the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) until 13 October 2005, the resolution noted that the responsibility for maintaining law and order ultimately rested with the Afghans themselves. It urged ISAF, which has been expanded across the country after being confined to the capital Kabul to work closely with the country's transitional administration and successors. Eurocorps--a multinational army comprised of forces from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain--took over the command of ISAF from Canada in August. The Council also stressed the importance of conducting free and fair elections, disarming and reintegrating ex-combatants, preventing the illegal drug trade and ensuring that the central government authority extends all across Afghanistan.

More than 6 million Afghans will continue to need food relief or other assistance in 2005 because persistent drought in some areas and pests and diseases in others, have caused crop failures across the country, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP). Based on a joint mission to affected areas in July 2004, the report stated the rising prices of some basic crops such as wheat placed them out of reach of the poorest Afghans.

On 7 September, the campaign for Afghanistan's first open presidential election in its history was formally opened, with 18 candidates vying for the post, it was announced by the joint United Nations-Afghan body handling the polling.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 2 September noted a symbolic milestone with the return home from Iran of the one-millionth Afghan since the start of voluntary...

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