CARE says Security Force Expansion Must Meet Challenges in Afghanistan

CARE
Friday, 31 October 2003

CARE, the International Crisis Group and the International Rescue Committee have urged NATO to go beyond deploying a handful of additional PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) to ensure that an expanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has the mandate and capabilities to effectively address insecurity in Afghanistan. The organizations issued a statement after recent meetings with NATO officials.

"The mandate and composition of the expanded NATO/ISAF force are critical," says Paul Barker, CARE's country director in Afghanistan. "ISAF should be equipped to deal with powerful warlords, a resurgent drug trade, and other threats in insecure areas of the country."

"Given ISAF's mandate as an 'assistance' force, building the capacity of the Afghan government to provide for the security of its people should be the central focus of its activities," the statement reads. ISAF should focus on "training professional Afghan police and military forces; and assisting in the implementation of a comprehensive program of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration into civilian life of those militia forces that do not qualify for the new police."

U.S. officials and others have frequently mentioned PRTs as a model for the expansion of the assistance force. However, the statement maintains, "the deployment of a handful of additional PRTs would simply not be adequate to fulfill [the force's] mandate."

"The PRT model confuses civilian and military roles and effectively skirts dealing with the critical issues of security," says Barker. "We are asking for ISAF to be a provincial security support force which promotes Afghan sovereignty."

"Stability is vital to the success of the upcoming constitutional loya jirga and national elections, which are quickly approaching," says Kevin Henry, CARE USA Advocacy Director. "Deploying ISAF in a timely and meaningful way is a crucial part of the international community's support of Afghanistan during this process."

The organizations also call on NATO-members and other governments interested in the future of Afghanistan to deliver the additional resources required for ISAF's new, expanded mandate. Otherwise, the statement warns, "the recent UN and NATO decisions to expand ISAF will be little more than hollow gestures [and] "risk the collapse of international efforts to help the Afghan people create a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan."

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

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