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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora