International aid agencies are expressing concern about the
deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, noting that problems
have spread to previously stable areas and attacks on aid agencies and
their staff are on the increase. Tendai Maphosa has more in this
report for VOA from London.
Aid agencies say rising insecurity in Afghanistan is hampering efforts to provide relief. The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief or ACBAR, represents about 100 non-governmental aid organizations. In a just released statement, the group also says that the number of civilians killed in the Afghan conflict is on the rise - up by approximately 50 percent over the same period last year.
Speaking with VOA from her office in Kabul, ACBAR spokesperson Anja de Beer says that while most of the deaths are attributed to insurgents, the international and Afghan forces are also responsible. Some of the deaths she says occur in aerial bombings but there are also cases where she alleges they are the result of excessive force.
"There are unfortunately instances that a search is conducted by coalition forces and the Afghan forces, sometimes there are extra-judicial executions, that luckily seems to be the exception," said de Beer.
De Beer added that the insurgents are gaining a foothold in areas where they were not so strong before. This, she says, has forced the closure of a large number of schools and health facilities in the south; is hindering the implementation of vital development projects; and has caused significant levels of internal displacement.
The ACBAR statement says that aid agencies are also increasingly being targeted by both insurgents and criminal elements. This, it says has forced many relief agencies to restrict their development and humanitarian activities.
Relief officials worry that with a drought in some parts of the country and increased food prices, over four million Afghans are facing extremely difficult circumstances. They say that young children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are at especially high risk.
ACBAR's Anja de beer says her organization believes the Afghan conflict cannot be solved on the battlefield.
"What is needed for sustainable peace is support for development and delivery of essential services to the population, government reforms and peace building initiatives," she said.
De Beer also said perceived corruption by the Afghan authorities turns members of the public against the government. Also, she added, the agricultural sector needs more support and that aid should be delivered in a more efficient and effective manner.