FinalCall.com, April 7, 2007
Security Council: Efforts to secure peace in Afghanistan not working
Mr. Ban stated that Afghanistan and its international partners once again find themselves at a critical juncture.
By Saeed Shabazz, Staff Writer
UNITED NATIONS - It is year six of the UN-backed NATO occupation of Afghanistan and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon admitted in a report to the United Nations Security Council on Mar. 20 that the resistance in Afghanistan appears "emboldened." In 2006, the casualty rates increased on the ground and NATO lost 46 troops.
Mr. Ban said a record number of 77 suicide attacks were recorded in the last six months, up from 53 over the previous six months, with most directed against foreign military convoys. The secretary general proposed a 12-month extension of the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA).
Poverty is driving people into the arms of the Taliban.
"The Taliban has become an alternative source of employment, recruiting the jobless as foot soldiers in the insurgency," US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a recent report.
Reuters, April 2, 2007
The Security Council held an open debate on the issue of peace and security in Afghanistan after the secretary general issued his report, with more than two dozens speakers participating. The UN's special envoy to Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, told the Security Council: "Given the conflict in the south of the nation and militarily vulnerable borders in the east and southeast, the threat to peace has not diminished."
Mr. Koenigs noted that civil unrest, loss of public support, as well as the right of victims to justice, places the international effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan under additional stress. He cautioned Afghan and international forces to "take greater care to ensure that they are doing no harm to civilians."
"While economic conditions failed to improve, NATO military strikes often targeted innocent civilians leading to violent anti-American protests in the Afghan capital in 2006. What was initially viewed by some Afghanis as a necessary police action against al-Qaida following the 9/11 attacks is now perceived by a growing majority in the entire region as a full-fledged imperial occupation," writes a Tarq Ali for Comment is Free (commentisfree.guardian.co.uk) on Feb. 28.
Mr. Ali surmised that "Washington's strategic aims in Afghanistan appear to be non-existent."
Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, in New York for the debate, told reporters that an international conference was needed, focusing on the "regional dimension of security and stability of Afghanistan."
Mr. Ban's report raised some rather significant issues outside of the military situation.
The report said that progress towards realizing gender equality continued to be held back by discrimination, insecurity and persistence of customary practices, and "honor" killings of females continued to be reported. It also stated that Afghanistan is still in the grip of drought and the displacement of 15,000 families in the south has been a major cause for humanitarian concern.
"We have more bloodshed, more poverty and more grievances than during the Taliban's time," Haji Agha, a resident of Lashkargah, the provincial capital, told IRIN.
IRIN News, April 2, 2007
In his conclusion, Mr. Ban stated that Afghanistan and its international partners once again find themselves at a critical juncture.
Ambassador Pascal Gayama of Congo told the Security Council that the international community must, more than ever, express its resolve to contribute to building a democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. "It would be timely to demonstrate more imagination and look at all ways to bring lasting peace," he stressed.
The U.S. representative, Jackie Wolcott Sanders, admitted that the Afghan government and the international community still faced many challenges, but progress was being made in key areas. She noted that the U.S. was a leading donor, providing over $14.2 billion to reconstruction and security assistance since 2001, and it was a leading troop contributor. "A request for a further $11.8 billion has been made to the U.S. Congress," she added.
Qatar's ambassador to the UN, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, called on the international community to treat Afghanistan as a "priority."
Also addressing the Security Council were the representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Slovakia, Panama, Ghana, Russian Federation, China, Peru, Indonesia, Japan, Belarus (on behalf of the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Canada, India, Iran, Norway and Iceland.
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