North Atlantic Treaty Organization Aid Effort Puts Lives at Risk in Afghanistan, According to Charities
Starkey, Jerome, DISAM Journal
[The following article originally appeared in The London Times, January 27, 2010.]
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO's) billion-dollar aid budget is putting lives at risk and undermining the long-term prospects for stability in Afghanistan, according to a damning report.
The warning by eight international charities comes on the eve of an international conference in London, where donors are expected to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars for development and reconciliation to complement NATO's counter-insurgency strategy. Some of the world's leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including Oxfam, Care, and ActionAid, say too much money is being channeled through the military, risking the safety of humanitarian staff by blurring the lines between aid workers and the army.
Development projects implemented with military money or through military-dominated structures aim to achieve fast results but are often poorly executed, inappropriate, and do not have sufficient community involvement to make them sustainable, it said. There is little evidence this approach is generating stability; and, in some cases, military involvement in development activities is, paradoxically ... putting Afghan lives further at risk as these projects quickly become targeted by anti-government elements.
Separate research by Care also found that schools built with NATO money were considered far more likely to be attacked by insurgents.
A quarterly report by the Afghan NGO Security Organization warned that aid workers would be especially vulnerable in the coming months "given the U.S. plans to expand the military operations and counter-insurgency focused 'aid' operations."
It warned staff to "be wary of attempts by [international military forces] and some donors to lure NGOs into areas recently 'secured' . …