Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

U.N. official says humanitarian situation in Afghanistan ‘deteriorating’

According to John Holmes, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, violence and natural disasters have caused the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan to “deteriorate,” necessitating increased efforts from the aid community to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people, the United Nations’ IRIN news agency reported Monday.

Holmes visited Afghanistan for four days in late June to examine the humanitarian process first-hand. As the article notes, efforts there are hamstrung by “intensifying conflict, drought, and large-scale refugee repatriation.” It adds that aid groups like Oxfam International have been critical of what they see as the inefficient use of aid dollars.

“We need to have more of a humanitarian strategy, an action plan, than we had before,” Holmes said, adding that donors “will respond generously” to a “right kind of strategy and a right kind of scaling up of our activities.”

Even with new strategies, development efforts face major obstacles. Direct attacks against aid groups have been on the rise, blocking access to large portions of Afghanistan. As the article notes, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) suffered 40 attacks on its aid trucks in the past 18 months, costing $800,000 dollars worth of food.

“There is not a magic solution, and while the conflict is going on we have to work around the conflict,” Holmes said. “We cannot solve the conflict as humanitarian. What we can do is to help the victims of it.”

For the full article, click here.


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