CARE Says Ideal Time to Expand ISAF Mandate in Afghanistan

CARE
Monday, 11 August 2003

Now that NATO has taken command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, its priority should be to expand ISAF's mandate. CARE and the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) called for this expansion in statements released today.

The security situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen.In a series of recent attacks on government forces and aid workers in the provinces,a raid in Helmand provincekilled six policemen and an aid worker; two attacks on landmine clearance personnel and a grenade and rocket attack on policemen in Kandahar. Local struggles for power, driven in some areas by the growing opium trade, are contributing to the fragmentation of the country.

NATO has the command structure, resources, ability, and personnel to carry out an expansion of peacekeeping beyond Kabul to key urban areas and to secure transport networks while the Afghan National Police and Army develop and grow in number.

"CARE has strongly advocated for the expansion of an international peace keeping force outside of Kabul and we are hopeful that NATO's new role will facilitate this," says Paul Barker, CARE's country director for Afghanistan Despite earlier promises, the international community is falling short in its commitment to peacekeeping in Afghanistan compared to other post-conflict situations:

  • In post-conflict Bosnia, NATO provided 1 peacekeeper for every 65 Bosnians.
  • In post-conflict Kosovo, NATO provided 1 peacekeeper for every 68 Kosovars.
  • In "post-conflict" Afghanistan there is 1 peacekeeper for every 5,555 Afghans.

Even if ISAF's mandate is broadened immediately, an expanded ISAF will take an estimated six months to put in place. If action is delayed, any impact on security will not take place until next year, jeopardizing prospects for a successful constitutional and electoral process. So far, it has been left to the Coalition-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT's) to bridge the security gap outside Kabul.

"These teams can be a useful contribution to the security deficit in the country but they are hardly adequate in their current form," says Barker. "Both ISAF and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams should have a stronger mandate for developing and working with Afghan security forces, so that in the long-term, Afghanistan's stability is in Afghan hands. In the short-term, the international community should seize this opportunity for NATO to improve security nationwide."

About CARE: CARE is one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations fighting global poverty. CARE helps communities improve their quality of life through projects in agriculture and natural resources, economic development, education, food, health, water and sanitation and emergency response.

For more information, or to contact CARE, see their website at: www.care.org

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