Geo TV, January 26, 2010
Suffering of Afghans ‘unbearable’: Red Cross
"I can imagine that there is not a single Afghan family that has not in one way or another been touched, lost relatives, decided to flee the region or the country"
The suffering of Afghanistan's people has reached "unbearable" levels as the conflict has intensified and spread across the country, a top international Red Cross official said Tuesday.
Decades of conflict have impacted every family in the country, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told a news conference in Tokyo.
"The suffering of the Afghan population has reached levels that are frankly unbearable in many circumstances," Kraehenbuehl said, speaking two days before a major conference in London on the war-ravaged country.
According to Bashardost, about 80 percent of the country is without electricity and unemployment is 60 percent. Many families can only afford to eat once a day and corruption is so rampant, ''it's practically legal,'' he said.
''People ask, 'What has democracy brought?''' he said. Besides helping keep warlords accused of war crimes in power, Bashardost added, ''the answer is: insecurity.''
The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2009
"I can imagine that there is not a single Afghan family that has not in one way or another been touched, lost relatives, decided to flee the region or the country" since Soviet troops invaded in 1979, he said.
Kraehenbuehl, who was posted for two years in Afghanistan in the mid 1990s, said "our major concern has been that over the past two years the intensity of the conflict has increased."
"The geographic spread of the conflict has grown also. So it's no longer simply confined to some regions of the south of Afghanistan, it has spread into the west, but also parts of the north of the country."
Kraehenbuehl was visiting Japan, which has offered five billion dollars' aid over the next five years to help rebuild the war-torn nation.
Japan can help improve education and health -- the key concerns of Afghans after security, according to an ICRC survey last year -- and should focus on neglected rural areas, he said.
"Afghanistan is a country that has had historically a lot of focus on its urban development, and rural regions were neglected," Kraehenbuehl said. "I think in those areas there is a lot to be done."
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