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Reuters UK, March 23, 2011

Most Britons unsure of Afghan mission aims - poll

Some 83 percent told YouGov it was "unlikely" that Afghanistan would be at peace by the time combat troops were due to withdraw

Most Britons are unclear about what the government's goals are in Afghanistan and only one in four believe the current strategy is working well, a poll published on Wednesday on behalf of leading aid groups showed.

The survey comes only a day after a separate poll found that just one in three Britons were in favour of a decision to take military action in Libya.

British soldiers patrol on a street in Kabul
British soldiers patrol on a street in Kabul July 27, 2010. (Photo: Reuters/ Omar Sobhani)

The YouGov Afghan poll, commissioned by eight aid organisations, found that 58 percent of the public said they were uncertain what Britain was trying to achieve there. The poll found that only 26 percent believed the current approach was working effectively.

Britain has the second-biggest foreign troop contingent in Afghanistan after the United States, with around 9,500 troops, the bulk of which are based in southern Helmand province, one of the most violent areas in the country and a Taliban stronghold.

Prime Minister David Cameron said last year British troops could start withdrawing in 2011 and that he wants British combat troops out of Afghanistan in five years. He has suggested 1,000 British trainers could stay beyond 2015.

Some 83 percent told YouGov it was "unlikely" that Afghanistan would be at peace by the time combat troops were due to withdraw.

The aid groups -- that include Oxfam, CARE, Christian Aid and Afghanaid -- said they had joined forces to launch an awareness campaign calling for a new initiative aimed at securing a lasting peace in the impoverished country.

The launch of "Together Afghanistan," comes the day after President Hamid Karzai announced a handover from NATO troops to Afghan security forces in seven areas.

Serena Di Matteo, Christian Aid's country director for Afghanistan, said development was being undermined by the conflict.

"The UK government must now give its backing to a comprehensive peace process which helps bring an end to the conflict," she said.

YouGov interviewed 2,595 adults online between March 14 and 15.

(Writing by Stefano Ambrogi; editing by Alison Williams)

Category: US-NATO, Protest - Views: 8399


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