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Calls for Afghanistan Security Up-grade

  • November 4th, 2006
  • Posted by 7thmin

nato-2-shot-31106.jpgHigh level consultations at the NATO alliance headquarters in Brussels this week (2.11.06), on civil assistance programs faced with the Taliban insurrection in Afghanistan, produced consensus supporting an urgent up-grade of local-area security.

Heads of the reconstruction program emerged from a meeting with the top policy body, the North Atlantic Council, saying that strong progress was being made on the ground despite the fighting.

However they wanted to see further development of security provided by local Afghan police, the courts and prison system.

Representatives of the twenty six NATO countries, and other allies in Afghanistan, like Australia, met senior officers of the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union.

On the agenda: worry about warfare, mayhem and insurgent attacks on civilan projects, like schools or health services, setting back the reconstruction and democratisation program.

The United Nations representative, Ambassador Chris Alexander, (Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in Afghanistan), said the situation had become “quite acute” in the four Southern provinces where Taliban operations had accelerated this year.

Some civil reconstruction projects had been suspended but others continued.

In education alone, one thousand schools had been built in the country this year; 37% of the pupils were girls, the highest level for female education so far ever attained.
The joint military forces commanded by NATO had achieved military successes in the South, and there was a public reaction against the attacks on schools; but there was also a clear need for more security to allow work to go ahead.

“Many development players are saying, ‘we cannot continue to work here because there’s not enough security’…”, he said.

“Security players, above all the Afghan government itself, have to do more work, and better work to bring about real security for the village population.”

The four most troubled provinces, out of thirty two in Afghanistan, include Oruzgan, where, Australian and Dutch troops are deployed, and where fifty-five Taliban guerrillas were reported killed in military action during the last week.

NATO reported to the meeting that projects costing $US 700-800 – million (A$ 908 – 1.03-billion; Decrates) were being conducted in those provinces.

Small scale development work in Afghanistan, like irrigation schemes, school buildings or local road works done by village councils, was receiving grants of up to $US 11-million (A$14.2-million) a month.

However NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Daan Everts, affirmed the position that the allies wanted to see more progress on village-level law and order – what he termed “soft security”.

He said Afghan authorities had made progress with outside help, but this was still an “Achilles heel” which created opportunities for Taliban forces.

He believed it was a sign of weakness and desperation that they had been burning schools and attacking health workers.

“The Taliban has seen that it cannot challenge NATO in a conventional manner.

“In a classic battle they are no match …”

“So they go about it in a way of destabilising, and they try to destroy any progress that would otherwise be made,” the Ambassador said.

He said non-government aid organisations had moved towards closer integration with NATO reconstruction projects, which had military protection.

He would meet them in Afghanistan during the following week (Week beginning 6.11.06) for “brainstorming” on future co-operation in the reconstruction of the country.

Picture: Ambassador Daan Everts (left) and Ambassador Chris Alexander; (NATO).