Memorandum submitted by CARE International
The Role of International Forces
1. After the establishment of the interim
government, the United Nations Security Council authorised the
dispatch of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
to Afghanistan. Under the terms of the Military Technical Agreement
signed between the Interim Authority and the ISAF, the mandate
of the international force is confined to Kabul and its environs.
2. Conditions in many parts of Afghanistan
continue to give cause for grave concern. Although there has been
success in transporting large amounts of food into the country,
populations in many rural areas remain in acute need of food assistance.
Many roads are blocked by snow. Continuing insecurity continues
to hamper the efforts of aid agencies to reach areas of greatest
3. In light of this situation, leaders of
the Interim Authority have recently expressed interest in an expansion
of the ISAF's geographic scope. CARE urges the international community
to respond positively by renegotiating with the Interim Authority
to expand the ISAF's mandate to areas outside of Kabul, including
other major urban centres, as well as key routes needed to get
aid to areas of acute need.
4. The Interim Authority faces an enormous
challenge in improving security throughout Afghanistan. The single
greatest contribution that the ISAF can make to Afghan reconstruction
is to help the Interim Authority establish, train and monitor
a professional national security force. CARE believes that the
ISAF should focus its efforts on assisting Afghan authorities
in creating and maintaining a secure environment in which humanitarian
aid can be delivered, the transition to an elected, constitutional
government can be sustained, and the reconstruction of the country
can be started.
5. The military may bring useful expertise
in other clearly defined areas, such as weapons collection, disposal
of unexploded ordnance, or restoring airports and other important
transport infrastructure to service. The military should focus
on those activities in which they have a comparative advantage,
leaving the actual delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well
as most reconstruction activities, to local and international
organisations that have long experience and established networks
6. In view of the fact that there is no
shortage of appropriate functions for ISAF in Afghanistan in the
foreseeable future, CARE notes with alarm the increasing tendency
for military personnel to be involved in direct implementation
of humanitarian aid projects. Both the British and US Governments,
through DFID and OFDA respectively, have released funding to ISAF
to carry out humanitarian activities. In some cases, field staff
have reported seeing armed military personnel in civilian clothing
working on such projects in an attempt to "integrate"
with the community.
7. In Afghanistan the distinction between
militias and civilians, armed and unarmed, is already blurred.
It is a major obstacle to the establishment of peace, prosperity
and democratic government. The international community should
do nothing that further blurs that distinction, and should show
by example that the forces of law and order have their proper
role, as do the civilian institutions of society. Military personnel
should therefore remain in uniform at all times.
8. CARE believes that it is important to
maintain a clear distinction between military and humanitarian
affairs. Overall strategy for and management of relief and reconstruction
efforts in Afghanistan should remain firmly under civilian control.
CARE supports the expansion of the current role and mandate of
ISAF, but it is neither necessary nor desirable that this should
extend to the implementation of humanitarian relief or rehabilitation
CARE International UK
22 February 2002