Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The last year has been especially violent for Afghan civilians. More than 1,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2006, according to a report released by the international monitoring group, Human Rights Watch.
It says that the majority of the dead were killed by the Taleban or other anti-government forces.
It says more than 4,400 Afghans died in "conflict-related violence", twice as many as in 2005 and more than any year since the Taleban were ousted in 2001.
Meanwhile, a conference on Afghan reconstruction has begun in Germany.
The HRW report says that UN figures show that the conflict also displaced around 15,000 families - around 80,000 people - in southern Afghanistan.

Nato admits 'Afghan mistake'
UN urged to 'take action'

"The international security effort in Afghanistan has been hobbled by insufficient resources and the failure to effectively address the security concerns of the Afghan population," the report said.
"Taking into account Afghanistan's population and size, the 40,000 Nato and US-led coalition forces in the country are a small fraction of the security forces deployed in other recent post-conflict areas like the Balkans and East Timor.
"Many are limited by national laws to safe areas in Afghanistan or cannot act to protect ordinary Afghans adequately."

Nato has pledged to reduce the number of civilian deaths.
The report says that one year after pledging to improve human rights and basic security, the Afghan government and the international community have not fulfilled their objective.
"Kabul and its international backers have made little progress in providing basic needs like security, food, electricity, water and health care," HRW's Asia Research Director Sam Zarifi said.
He said that tens of thousands of Afghans do not feel safe enough to lead normal lives.
"Life is so dangerous that many Afghans are unable to go to school, get health care, or take goods to market," he said.
Suicide bombings
Earlier this month, Nato officials said their biggest mistake in Afghanistan in 2006 was killing innocent civilians, and that efforts are underway to reduce the number.
In the latest violence, police say a suicide bomber drove into a bus carrying Afghan soldiers in the city of Herat, injuring at least five people.
Three soldiers and two civilians are reported to be among the injured.

President Karzai is struggling to exert his authority.
Meanwhile a two-day international conference on the reconstruction of the country has begun in Germany following significant aid pledges from the US and the European Union (EU).
The meeting of international donors - hosted by Germany as the current G8 president - is being held as a follow-up to a conference in London last year when the international community launched a five-year plan, or "compact" to coordinate financial and military support.
But correspondents say that one year later, many regions of the country are still ravaged by violence, and President Karzai remains unable to enforce his authority in many areas.
Last week the US said that it planned to spend an additional $10.6bn in Afghanistan over two years and keep more than 3,000 US troops there for an additional four months.
The EU followed that by promising to contribute $777m over the next four years, with special efforts to strengthen the judiciary and fight corruption.



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