Statement from Michel Gabaudan, President of Refugees International
Washington, DC - "As President Obama continues his Afghanistan strategy, Refugees International is disappointed that the U.S. government fails to recognize and address the humanitarian consequences of rising insecurity. Despite some fragile security gains in a handful of districts, more Afghans are directly affected by the conflict than last year as the war spreads to the previously stable north and west of the country. Taliban attacks increased by 59 percent over last year. As the U.S. government works towards increased management of basic services by the Afghan government, aid workers and Afghans told us that this only fuels corruption, rather than improve education and health programs.
"The U.S. government’s optimism is an obstacle to addressing the growing humanitarian needs of Afghans. In the past year, displacement from conflict increased by 50 percent and more people will be uprooted from their homes in 2011. Civilian casualties increased by one-third in the first half of this year and are increasingly affecting children and women. Despite these worsening conditions, humanitarian staff and programs are limited as governments instead provide billions of dollars towards state-building and long-term development programs. Ignoring humanitarian needs is a recipe for growing instability, not growing prosperity.
"Despite the recognition that the region’s problems will not be solved by military means, the U.S. government continues to channel its aid and diplomatic resources accordingly. The increase in U.S. government civilian presence to over 1,000 personnel has improved coordination with the military, but has not demonstrated a positive impact on the delivery of aid. As violence spreads throughout the country, the U.S. government is losing the opportunity to invest its resources in stable areas with desperate needs for basic services. Instead, USAID and its contractors are pushing billions of dollars in “hearts and minds” projects to extremely insecure areas of the country. This approach limits oversight and requires at least one-third of aid to be spent on armed guards, security barriers and armored vehicles.
"As we move into the tenth year of the war in Afghanistan , Refugees International urges the U.S. to support ordinary Afghans who hope for a stable and secure future for themselves and their families."
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. For more information, go to www.refugeesinternational.org.
For Immediate Release: December 16, 2010
Contact: Refugees International, Megan Fowler
P: 202-828-0110 x214