Mon, Dec 30, 2013 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Aid organizations to stay as NATO exits Afghanistan

AFP, DARWAZAGI, Afghanistan

Karzai is due to stand down at elections in April, and has said he may leave signing the deal to his successor — adding further confusion as NGOs try to plan for the future.

The 2009 election, which was won by Karzai, severely shook confidence in the international effort to help Afghanistan as voting was marred by violence and massive fraud.

Donors at a conference in Tokyo last year pledged US$16 billion in civilian aid until 2015 — but only on condition that corruption was tackled, rule of law strengthened and women’s rights improved.

Half of the money is dispersed by the Afghan government, raising fears of lack of transparency and threatening aid workers’ independent from state authorities.

“If there are problems in the election, the number of humanitarian NGOs and the funds could fall further,” said Sayed Hashim Basirat, head of the government’s NGO relations department.

Both the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration were hit in major attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers this year, although the Taliban have said they do not target aid groups.

A fall in NGOs projects after next year would increase the risk of economic collapse and a return to the extremism and instability of the Taliban era.

However Acbar, an umbrella group for 120 NGOs active in Afghanistan, said its members remain defiant.

“We’re here... We are really not going,” Acbar director Justine Piquemal said.

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