Two Years After Taliban's Fall, CARE Says Costs of Insecurity Are Rising

CARE
Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Recommends ISAF Security Support Teams to Ensure Afghanistan's future

On the eve of the second anniversary of the Taliban's fall, the international humanitarian agency CARE says the costs of insecurity for Afghanistan's reconstruction are rising, threatening the country's future as a stable state. In a recent survey 10 major aid agencies, including CARE, estimated that security concerns have resulted in cancellation or delay of aid projects benefiting more than 600,000 Afghans. CARE recommends that the existing International Security Assistance Force be reshaped and expanded to better address the country's needs.

"What Afghanistan needs is something which might be more appropriately named ISAF Security Support Teams," says Paul Barker, CARE's country director for Afghanistan. "These teams would be deployed to the more insecure areas of the country. Their core responsibility would be to promote Afghan capacity to establish and ensure improved security. ISSTs would train and conduct joint operations with the Afghan National Police Force (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA). They should support national efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate members of Afghanistan's many militias, and they would help manage the security gap when the militias are demobilized."

Despite the recent UN Security Council endorsement of an expanded mandate for a NATO led ISAF there are still no significant new commitments of troops and there still is not a coherent security strategy for the country. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) fielded by the Coalition invest energy and resources in construction projects that duplicate the efforts of aid agencies and divert resources that are urgently needed for security and training of Afghan forces.

In a press conference after their recent visit to Afghanistan, the UN Security Council Mission reported that " the core problem that we met in all discussions whether it was with politicians, local leaders, warlords, NGOs, the key question appeared to us to be security..." "What appeared obvious to us was that security could only be ensured with a comprehensive strategy."

More and more communities are afraid to accept help, and some are returning reconstruction assistance for fear that any relationship to the government or aid agencies may result in reprisals against them by opposition forces, warlords or drug traffickers. The bombing of a UN compound in Kandahar and a humanitarian organization in Kabul are just the latest signals that aid agencies face greater risks as well In the past year, attacks on aid agencies have escalated from one each month to one each day. Twelve aid workers have been killed and dozens wounded.

The country has a draft constitution and a sovereign government, with presidential elections scheduled for next year. But this progress is in jeopardy due to inadequate security nationwide.

"Time is short, but it is still not too late for the international community to do more now to create the security conditions throughout Afghanistan that will allow reconstruction and the political process to move forward successfully over the coming year," says Kevin Henry, CARE USA's advocacy director.

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

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