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HA2015 Afghanistan Country Study

HA2015 Afghanistan Country Study

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Since the beginning of 2006, an interdisciplinary team has been working on a wide-ranging evidence-based research project that identifies the key issues that are likely to impact on humanitarian action in the coming decade, along with the practical implications of these issues for agency programming. During the first phase of the project, which ended in August 2006, the team researched four interrelated issues: the universality of humanitarianism, the implications of terrorism and counter-terrorism for humanitarian action, the search for coherence between humanitarian and political agendas, and the security of humanitarian personnel and the beneficiaries of humanitarian action.

As a result of comments and suggestions made during this first round of consultations, the Center has refined its plans for phase II of the project. Two significant changes have been made. The first is to expand the scope of the research to countries affected by disasters caused by natural hazards in addition to conflict (e.g., Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal). This will allow for a verification of the extent to which the challenges to humanitarianism identified in conflict situations also apply in so-called natural disaster settings.
Since the beginning of 2006, an interdisciplinary team has been working on a wide-ranging evidence-based research project that identifies the key issues that are likely to impact on humanitarian action in the coming decade, along with the practical implications of these issues for agency programming. During the first phase of the project, which ended in August 2006, the team researched four interrelated issues: the universality of humanitarianism, the implications of terrorism and counter-terrorism for humanitarian action, the search for coherence between humanitarian and political agendas, and the security of humanitarian personnel and the beneficiaries of humanitarian action.

As a result of comments and suggestions made during this first round of consultations, the Center has refined its plans for phase II of the project. Two significant changes have been made. The first is to expand the scope of the research to countries affected by disasters caused by natural hazards in addition to conflict (e.g., Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal). This will allow for a verification of the extent to which the challenges to humanitarianism identified in conflict situations also apply in so-called natural disaster settings.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Feinstein International Center on Feb 21, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/28/2012

 
 
Humanitarian Agenda 2015Afghanistan Country Study
By Antonio DoniniJune 2006
Overview
 This study is part of a research program undertaken by the FeinsteinInternational Center at Tufts University on “The Humanitarian Agenda2015: Principles, Politics and Perceptions” (HA 2015).
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The key findingsof the research in Afghanistan are presented in the following pagesunder the four HA 2015 headings: the universality of the humanitarianenterprise; terror and counter-terror and its impact on humanitarianaction; coherence of political and humanitarian endeavors; and issuesrelated to security of communities and humanitarian personnel. This ispreceded by a brief historical background and by an overview of Afghans’ perceptions of the aid effort. A final section presents keyconclusions and (policy) recommendations. The four themes of the HA 2015 research come together in Afghanistan with clear-cut relevance. The externality of the aid enterprise and thebaggage that comes with it—values, lifestyle, attitude, and behavior of aid workers—challenge the purported universality of humanitarianaction. The context of terrorism and counter-terrorism is at the heart of the international community’s involvement in Afghanistan: the initialobjective of the US-led coalition was to smash Al Qaeda and the Taliban, not to engage in nation-building. The coherence agenda,exemplified both by the integration of humanitarian and human rights
Humanitarian Agenda 2015 
 
(HA2015) 
is a policy researchproject aimed at equipping thehumanitarian enterprise to moreeffectively address emergingchallenges around four majorthemes: universality, terrorismand counter terrorism, coherence,and security.
The Feinstein International Center (FIC) 
develops and promotesoperational and policy responsesto protect and strengthen the livesand livelihoods of people living incrisis-affected and -marginalizedcommunities. FIC works globallyin partnership with national andinternational organizations tobring about institutional changesthat enhance effective policyreform and promote best practice.Full report and other countrystudies available at fic.tufts.edu
 
 
Afghanistan Country Study
JUNE 2006
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concerns within the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA) and by the pressures on NGOs to be part of the Coalition’s“combat team,” colors the operating environment of the aid community.And the heavy toll inflicted by insurgents and criminal elements on thesecurity of aid workers, both Afghan and international, cuts across thethree other themes and deeply affects staff morale and ability toaddress critical humanitarian need. The field research in Afghanistan for the preparation of this case studycame at a period of dashed expectations and increasing concerns forAfghans. Compared to early 2005 when fieldwork for the Tufts“Mapping” study
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was undertaken, the general mood was moredisillusioned and more somber. While the process initiated by the BonnAgreement in December 2001 was formally nearing completion—theparliamentary elections had been held in late 2005 and PresidentKarzai was preparing to submit a new government to the parliament’sapproval—the prevailing view among both Afghans and internationalpersonnel of the UN, NGOs, and even the Coalition Forces (CF) and theInternational Security Assistance Force (ISAF) militaries was that thegeneral security situation was deteriorating. Unlike previous winters,the low-level Taliban insurgency had not let up, and there were signsthat the insurgents were preparing for major spring and summer
 
 
Afghanistan Country Study
JUNE 2006
3
offensives. Suicide bombings, hitherto unknown, had appeared on theAfghan scene, perhaps indicating connections between the Afghan andIraqi insurgencies. Large swaths of the east, southeast, and south of the country were practically no-go areas for aid agencies. Those whocontinued to work there had to resort to militarized convoys (the UN) orgo underground (NGOs) eschewing visibility, communications, andinternational presence.More importantly, the overwhelming sentiment was that while in the(relatively secure) areas visited the security situation appeared to havestabilized, the socio-economic plight of Afghans had not. There wasnear unanimity in the focus group meetings and in the interviews heldfor this study that human security for the population had not improvedor was deteriorating. This was attributed to a number of factors, to which we shall return below, including the absence of a visible peacedividend, the perceived ineffectiveness and corruption of the aidsystem, the perception that the international community has a hiddenagenda at odds with Afghanistan’s development objectives as well asthe crippling effects of international aid on Afghan ownership of therecovery process.In the words of one acute observer of things Afghan: “For the Afghanpeople . . . the window is slowly closing; there is an enormous amountof public frustration that five years down the road, after all thepromises of the international community, their lives have not reallychanged that much.”
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This frustration is often expressed by the jokesthat Afghans are fond of telling. Two seem to encapsulate their currentpredicament: “If the Coalition forces left at 10 am tomorrow, large scalefighting would break out by noon.” “We wanted Afghans to be in thedriver’s seat, but we didn’t mean it literally. . . . Look at all those seniorAfghan professionals who are drivers for the foreign aid agencies.” Thedisconnect between expectations and reality is captured by twoemblematic statements. The first, utopian and probably apocryphal, isattributed to President Karzai in a meeting with the former King:“Majesty, ten years from now Afghanistan will be like Dubai.” Thesecond by a senior Taliban commander captured by the Coalitionpoints ominously to a very different future: “You Americans have watches. We have time.”
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 In a very real sense Afghans feel “wronged”. The rewards they expectedhave not materialized. A narrative that is often heard goes as follows: we endured twenty-five years of war, we put the final nails into thecoffin of the Soviet empire and provoked its demise, we have sufferedgreat abuse and displacement during the civil war years and under the Taliban, we have missed out on education opportunities for our

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