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CBS News, August 16, 2007

Billions in US Aid Wasted in Afghanistan

Lara Logan reports on the reconstruction burden when projects go unfinished.

Jalalabad, Afghanistan - American doctor Dave Warner is on a mission in eastern Afghanistan to show people back home how billions of taxpayer dollars sent here are being wasted.

"When I was here in December," Warner told CBS News chief forign correspondent Lara Logan. "This was full so you can see they've dug another pit over here."

Rotting bio-waste is dumped in the hospital's backyard because as Warner and the hospital director showed us next - the new waste incinerator donated by the U.S. government is completely useless. Even if the hospital knew how to run it, they can't afford the fuel.

RAWA photo: Kabul in gap of poverty and destitution

"Afghanistan has received 12 billion $ in aid but there aren't any signs of serious reconstruction. Our people have not benefited from the billions of reconstruction dollars due to theft by the warlords or misuse by NGOs. Even a fraction of this aid has not been used for the benefit and welfare of our people. Government corruption and fraud directs billions of dollars into the pockets of high-ranking officials. It is such a big shame that the government still cannot provide electricity, food and water for its people."

Zoya's Speech, Oct.7, 2006

"It's not used very often … at all," he said.

It was a gift from the American people.

"Isn't that nice?" Warner said.

Warner is a public health expert from San Diego who's taken it upon himself to do what no one else in Afghanistan seems to be doing - documenting the failures in reconstruction. He says the system can't be fixed unless those responsible first admit that it's broken.

But it's a hard sell. Warner says he has tried to report his findings to officials at the Pentagon.

"I was brought aside and they told me, don't tell that story," Warner said. "I said why not. And they said well, this is one of our success stories."

A success story that quickly turned to disappointment for the hospital when they discovered that this septic truck donated by the United States with brand new tires and a new coat of paint wasn't new at all - in fact it's at least 60-years-old.

The hospital's plumbing system is new, and certified as complete by the U.S. agency who funded it. But it's a disaster. Blood poured out of an open drain when Logan was there.

Open drains should have been covered - a fact Warner pointed out more than a year ago to those in charge of the project but no one would take responsibility and finish the job. Warner says leaving it to the Afghans is unrealistic.

"They have no resources, so every time we leave something 80 percent of the way, that more than overwhelms their capacity," he said.

It's inside the hospital that you really see how overwhelmed the hospital is. Surgical instruments are sterilized in a pressure cooker.

Babies are kept two or three to one bed. And critically ill babies have to share oxygen - there's barely enough power to run these two machines.

Newborns with jaundice also have to share fluorescent lights because of the limited power.

"This is what the people have," Warner said, referencing average Afghanis. "Yes, when you are talking about hearts and minds, these are the hearts."

Hearts that the United States is failing to win, Warner says, because the system is failing them.

Category: US-NATO, Corruption - Views: 7215


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