Aid groups say Afghan violence worse, even in areas once safe
Spreading chaos may block relief for drought-stricken people
Aid groups working in Afghanistan say they may not be able to operate in parts of the country previously seen as safe because of a dramatic escalation in violence.
An alliance of about 100 Afghan and international organizations reports a 50 per cent increase in insurgent attacks compared to last year, with many civilians dying and aid agencies themselves increasingly becoming targets.
The international military effort to tame conflict in Afghanistan has cost the lives of 88 Canadian soldiers.
In a statement issued Friday, the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief, or ACBAR, said the violence faced by aid groups hasn't been this bad since the conflict began in 2001.
ACBAR expressed "grave concern about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the serious impact on civilians," the BBC reported, adding these details:
- June saw more attacks on aid organizations than any other month since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, and some agencies have been forced to scale back operations.
- Nineteen aid workers have been killed so far this year, more than during the whole of 2007.
- June was one of the deadliest months for Afghan civilians, with more than 260 killed.
Mohammed Hashim Mayar, a deputy director of ACBAR, said attacks and bombings have increased with each passing month and the violence has shown up in areas that were once relatively secure, "so it's a great concern to our ACBAR members."
The increased violence will stop aid from reaching people who need it, said Matt Waldman, head of policy in Afghanistan for Oxfam International, an ACBAR member.
"We've seen over the past year or two that insecurity has spread to parts of the centre, to the west and to parts of the north as well, and that is extremely worrying because of course Afghanistan is facing a drought," Waldman said.
"There is also a crisis with respect to food prices, which have gone up dramatically, and this increasing insecurity is threatening the ability of these agencies to reach out to those areas."