Friday, May 05, 2006

CARE Takes NATO to Task in Afghanistan

CARE International came out with a rather strongly worded press release calling for NATO to stop undertaking humanitarian actions in Afghanistan that put NGO staff member's lives at risk due to a blurring of the lines between military and aid operations.

The AlertNet Newsblog has a few more details that are worth quoting.

Talking to Howard Mollett, CARE International UK's Humanitarian Aid Advisor, a couple of interesting examples of military-NGO friction emerge. In the south, CARE's local partners were approached by the Taliban and told that as long as they continued to operate in the same way, they would not be targeted. But if they accepted funding from the military-led "provincial reconstruction team" (PRT), their security might be threatened.

Problems are not limited to security, with aid agencies saying military projects can undermine their own. In Afghanistan's Badghis province, one of CARE's local partners had started up a micro-loan business with interest rates of around 10 percent, as part of a long-term community project. The PRT came in and set up a short-term loans project with no fee, which brought people flocking to what CARE sees as a less sustainable option.

CARE says it also concerned about the potential for government aid funds to be diverted to military-backed projects. "Aid money should be channelled through civilian organisations and military 'hearts and minds' money should come from defence budgets," said Mollett.


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