Select Committee on International Development First Report


6. Conclusion

115. This report has attempted to provide an analysis of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan - a crisis which was underway well before the events of September 11. We have looked at the impact which September 11 had both on the humanitarian crisis itself and on ability of the agencies to cope with it. We have indicated some of the areas on which reconstruction plans should focus and to which we will return in another inquiry at a later date. The five key conclusions are that:

  • the primary distribution of food has, despite all obstacles, been delivered in adequate quantities but the failure of the secondary distribution systems has prevented its delivery to all those in need;
  • secondary distribution been inadequate because of the lack of security over large parts of Afghanistan. The collapse of the Taliban did not bring the safe humanitarian space which had been hoped for, it often substituted one security concern for another. Banditry and lawlessness replaced military conflict;
  • local Afghan people, particularly women, kept humanitarian and other development assistance going during the crisis and demonstrated they should be central to the future development of Afghanistan;
  • the unwillingness of donors to match their pledges with hard cash has resulted in gaps in provision;
  • the ability to prepare adequately has been limited by the general under­funding of the UN agencies.

Ultimately, the success of the continuing humanitarian relief operation depends on adequate levels of funding and crucially, either stability returning to Afghanistan, or the provision of security for humanitarian relief operations by the international community. We will return to the subject of Afghanistan's reconstruction and monitor the shift from food aid assistance to strategies for long-term sustainable development that must ultimately ensure Afghanistan ceases to be the poorest country in the world.

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Prepared 20 December 2001