News / Asia

UN: Afghanistan Bribes Totaled Nearly $4 Billion

An Afghan trader holds U.S. dollar and Afghani bundles at the Saray- e Shahzadeh, the main exchange market in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2011.An Afghan trader holds U.S. dollar and Afghani bundles at the Saray- e Shahzadeh, the main exchange market in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2011.
x
An Afghan trader holds U.S. dollar and Afghani bundles at the Saray- e Shahzadeh, the main exchange market in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2011.
An Afghan trader holds U.S. dollar and Afghani bundles at the Saray- e Shahzadeh, the main exchange market in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2011.
Sharon Behn
According to the United Nations, bribes paid in Afghanistan in 2012 totaled almost a quarter of the entire amount of aid the international community has pledged to the war-ravaged country. Although Kabul appears to have made some progress towards reducing graft - a key condition for receiving international aid - the total cost of corruption has increased to almost $4 billion.

The latest survey by the United Nations found that half of Afghanistan's adult population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official last year, a 9 percent drop from 2009. However, the total amount of bribes paid to public officials increased 40 percent to $3.9 billion.

This means the poor are even less able than before to afford basic services.

According to Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, the total amount of bribes paid by Afghan citizens in 2012 was double the revenue collected by the Afghan government in 2010 and 2011 to provide services.

"Nobody in this country or interested into this country will deny the fact that corruption is a major problem plaguing government services and the way overall the government is perceived," he said.

Lemahieu pointed out that the survey did not even take into account high-level political corruption.

The U.N. says corruption includes bribery, embezzlement, abuse of power and nepotism, ranging from the very top of government down to low-level officials responsible for providing services to their own people.

One of the areas that has seen a spike in corruption is education. According to the report, more than half of those surveyed said they had bribed a teacher in 2012.

But Mohammad Rafi Amini, director of the Afghan government's anti-corruption office, says the government had made some strides.

He says that in this survey there are areas where corruption is high and some areas where corruption is low, and it even decreased 9 percent, so he thinks this could be positive news for the people of Afghanistan.

Bribes are common throughout Afghan society, and the U.N. report notes that patronage and bribery have become an acceptable way of life in the country. But bribes paid to the government sector are by far the most common.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed the international community for much of the corruption, saying petty graft paled in comparison with the enormous bribes paid by foreign contractors to Afghan government officials, among others.

Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analyst Network only partly agrees.

"There is so much money pouring in with insufficient oversight that this is definitely fueling large-scale corruption.  On the other hand, it's mainly Afghans, at least now as far as we know, who take the money, so they are as responsible for it as the people who give the money," he said.

Ruttig adds that, although there have been many public statements against corruption when it has been politically opportune, the international community has been willing to look the other way.

"Some Western actors, and particularly the West - no, the U.S. - prioritize allies which can fight the Taliban, regardless of what they are doing in other fields, including corruption and also mistreating their own people," he said.

According to the survey, Afghans consider corruption the second-biggest problem plaguing the country, after insecurity.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, canada
February 07, 2013 5:14 PM
If all, even most of this corruption article is correct, the Taliban will be back in full force in less than two years after the NATO forces leave. I just hope no nation gives sanctuary/refugee status to any of these corrupt people, because their corruption will be the cause for the retrun of the Taliban, to Afghanistan, for sure.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More