Senior U.N. Officials Express Concern Over Military Provision Of Humanitarian Aid In Afghanistan

The New York Times examines the recent criticisms made by senior U.N. officials in Afghanistan that NATO forces are contributing to “the militarization of humanitarian aid” and the Wednesday announcement that the U.N. will not participate in the military’s reconstruction effort in Marja, Afghanistan.

“The American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has made the rapid delivery of governmental services, including education, health care and job programs, a central part of his strategy in Marja, referring to plans to rapidly deploy what he has referred to as ‘a government in a box’ once Marja is pacified,” the newspaper writes. Some senior U.N. officials, such as Wael Haj-Ibrahim, head of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan, have expressed reservations about the military’s role in providing health care to the public.

“‘If that aid is being delivered as part of a military strategy, the counterstrategy is to destroy that aid,’ Mr. Haj-Ibrahim said. ‘Allowing the military to do it is not the best use of resources.’ Instead, he said, the military should confine itself to clearing an area of security threats and providing security for humanitarian organizations to deliver services.”

The article describes the American military strategy for reconstruction in Marja and concerns about that strategy as detailed in a joint report recently produced by several leading humanitarian organizations.

“Military-led humanitarian and development activities are driven by donors’ political interests and short-term security objectives and are often ineffective, wasteful and potentially harmful to Afghans,” Oxfam, one of the group’s involved in the report, said in a statement (Norland, 2/17).

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