News / Asia

    Afghan Security Worries Top UN Envoy

    A U.S. Marine from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company patrols near the town of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, Feb. 23, 2011.
    A U.S. Marine from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company patrols near the town of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, Feb. 23, 2011.
    Lisa Schlein

    A senior United Nations official says security in Afghanistan is at its lowest point since the departure of the Taliban 10 years ago. He said aid agencies are unable to deliver humanitarian assistance to 40 percent of the country and that access to many other areas is limited.

    In his two years as U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan, Robert Watkins said security in the country has steadily deteriorated. The outgoing envoy said that between 2009 and 2010, insurgent attacks increased by 66 percent and civilian casualties rose by 20 percent.

    In addition, Watkins said more than 700 NATO soldiers were killed last year - the highest death toll since the beginning of the war. Violence has increased as the Taliban insurgency spreads from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar to many other parts of the country.

    The U.N. official said NATO has justified its military surge by arguing that security will get worse before it gets better.

    "We are at a phase right now where we have not seen things turning the corner," said Watkins. "We are told that they are getting better, but it has not yet translated into tangible improvements insofar as the way that we are able to deliver assistance in Afghanistan."

    Watkins also noted that access to different parts of Afghanistan has been getting progressively worse over the past decade. He said the United Nations currently can effectively deliver aid to a third of the country and limited assistance to another 30 percent. He said, however, the remainder of the country is off limits.

    In the past, NATO has dispersed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. Watkins said this has contributed to a perception by Afghans and the insurgents that humanitarian aid is linked to military action.

    Watkins said it is crucial NATO understands how important it is to keep these two roles separate. At the same time, the U.N. envoy said it is important the humanitarian community establishes and maintains strong relations with insurgent groups in order to ensure the delivery of aid.

    Watkins said U.N. agencies in the past have successfully negotiated with local commanders of the Taliban to gain access to parts of the country that they control to deliver vaccination and other programs.

    "But, it is important that we intensify those contacts so that we can go to even greater parts of the country with some kinds of guarantees of safety. "But, as I say, we have had a problem and we continue to have a problem of them perceiving this international assistance as being part of a wider international political, military program, which, of course, it is not," said Watkins.

    Watkins said the United Nations also is having difficulty obtaining funds for its humanitarian operations, because he said donors see Afghanistan as being a post-conflict country only in need of rehabilitation aid.

    The U.N. official said donors must understand the conflict in Afghanistan is far from over and the people remain in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha?

    From meat and potatoes to avocados, how immigrants transform American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora