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The September 11th attacks and their aftermath placed Afghanistan at the centre of international attention. At this time, Afghanistan was one of the poorest countries in the world. Protracted armed conflicts since 1978 have impacted negatively on relations between citizens and the state and weakened the social fabric. They caused massive destruction to traditional agricultural livelihoods and the environment. Development was severely inhibited, there was huge internal displacement and 6 million Afghans were forced to flee to Iran and Pakistan. Overall death-toll figures are estimated to be as high as 1.5 million.

US military action in response to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 led to the overthrow of the ruling Taliban regime.

The succession of conflicts in Afghanistan led to the displacement of large numbers of people and left central and local administrations extremely weak. The Bonn Agreement in December 2001 set the course for the rehabilitation and democratisation process and at a January 2002 conference, international donors pledged funds to assist that process.

Afghanistan held a Presidential election in October 2004 - the first election to be held in the country since the 1960s. President Hamid Karzai (formerly President of the Afghan Transitional Authority) was formally inaugurated in December 2004. Parliamentary and provincial elections were held in September 2005. These elections were the final step in the implementation of the 2001 Bonn Agreement, towards the reestablishment of democratic government institutions in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan still faces internal security concerns and the overall task of state-building in the wake of its troubled history. Tackling the illicit narcotics industry is also one of President Karzai's stated priorities for the country.