Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Refugees International | Field Report

Lynn Yoshikawa and Matt Pennington assessed the needs of internally displaced people in Afghanistan in May 2011. This is their report. It is powerful testimony to the impact of the surge and the creation of new militia forces called Afghan Local Police (ALP). Simply put, they find Afghans civilians caught in the middle of an intensifying military campaign against a fractured armed insurgency.

Responsible U.S. Transition Must Address Displacement Crisis
Refugees International | Field Report | 28 June 2011

"Despite the U.S. military’s claims of progress, insurgent attacks are up by 50% over last year, and more than 250,000 people have fled their villages in the past two years. U.S. funded and trained militias are only exacerbating this explosive situation…”

"Since January 1, more than 91,000 Afghans have fled their villages – compared with 42,000 over the same time period last year. This is mostly due to international and Afghan forces’ military operations against the Taliban…”

"Although General Petraeus touts local defense initiatives as successfully thwarting the insurgency, the proliferation of militias is increasing insecurity, especially in the north. Many new militias operate under the guise of the U.S./ISAF-backed Afghan Local Police (ALP) initiative. Internally Displaced People (IDPs), government officials, security analysts and humanitarian actors told RI that the expansion of poorly vetted, ill-trained and unsupervised ALP units and irregular militias are a major threat to civilians and stability. These armed groups have allegedly committed abuses including murder, theft, extortion, bribery and intimidation.”

They provide five policy recommendations

“The incoming ISAF commander should issue a directive to all forces under his command to reduce displacement and share information on displacement with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The U.S. Congress should withhold payments to the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program until the Secretary of Defense certifies that adequate recruitment, vetting, discipline and command/control structures have been established, as well as a clear timeframe for the program’s integration into the Afghan National Police.

UNHCR and OCHA should request funding to double their protection and humanitarian affairs officers in critical regional offices to meet growing humanitarian needs.

The UN should immediately appoint an experienced candidate to the Humanitarian Coordinator post.

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) should work with the Afghan government to develop an inter-agency plan to address forced displacement.”

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