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Displaced Afghans Left Out in the Cold

On March 1st, 2012 Al Jazeera, a Qatar owned broadcaster, released a report on war-displaced Afghans, a demographic that is increasingly becoming a burden to the nation of Afghanistan as their numbers have obviously ballooned due to the outbreak of war with the United States in late 2001. According to the report, the number of IDP’s, internally displaced peoples, hit 500,000 in late February of 2012. Many of these people are women and children, and most of these women and children were subject to the harsh winter of Afghanistan without the proper clothing or food.

According to the report, the Afghan government itself may be blocking much of the aide that is being offered to the IDP’s. Among these efforts to block aid to these IDPs are reports that non-governmental organizations have been stopped while trying to build water pumps or while trying to provide heating to the numerous camps that have been erected around metropolis centers such as Kabul and Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. Apparently the government is nervous about these areas receiving too much aide because they could become magnets for other impoverished locals and, in turn, massive slums could develop.

In addition to the lack of government involvement in the plight of these IDPs and the blocking of almost any outside aid, these IDPs are being met with ostracism from their own countrymen, especially in the larger cities in Afghanistan, such as Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. According to the report IDPs are often accused of not properly managing land and exhausting the city’s already poor sanitation situation. There is also mention of land squabbles with the locals.

Student Researcher:  Jason Hunt, Indian River State College

Source:

“Displaced Afghans Left Out in Cold,” Aljazeera, May 1, 2012

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2012/02/20122282055656846.html

Faculty Instructor:  Elliot D. Cohen, Ph. D.  Indian River State College 

Discussion

            Since October 2001, the United States has been involved in a “war on terrorism” based mainly in Afghanistan. This is the primary reason that these 500,000 Afghanis, that were discussed in the article, have been displaced. Unfortunately, the Afghan government does not have the means to properly care for these displaced citizens. This issue has taken the backseat due to other Afghani government priorities. In addition, the government believes that giving aide to these people will only worsen matters by improving their living conditions, and giving them incentive to stay in the slums that they live in. This is a growing problem due to the fact that there are over 400 people being internally displaced within Afghanistan every day. Over time, I believe that this problem will be viewed as being caused by NATO with the United States as the focal point, which will lead to repercussions that the United States must ultimately face alone.

The biggest issue that the United States will have to face comes from a moral standpoint, and that is its obvious disregard for the livelihood of the Afghan people. Yes, the war was for the safety of the rest of the world, but why does it have to be at the sacrifice of the safety and well-being of the Afghan people? It seems that the lives of the Afghan people do not mean as much as the lives of the Americans, at least not to the United States anyways. The United States has treated the loss of Afghan lives as mere collateral damage in a war that is supposed to provide stability to the country. Instead this war has displaced a large portion of the population and killed another large portion, creating instability, remorse, and unrest.

This massive displacement of people is going to cause a negative outlook toward Americans. I believe that the United States will be vilified for their role in the war in Afghanistan, and this vilification will be the most prominent among the Afghan people. The question is, does the United States really think that after eleven years of the Afghan’s fellow countrymen being uprooted from their homes and lifestyles, that in the future, the people of Afghanistan will greet them with open arms? I think not. I believe that the present situation is breeding hatred and disdain in the minds and the hearts of the Afghan people. In the years to come, I think that the Afghan people will not be very compliant to our wishes, because of our past wrong doings.

This is not only a moral issue, but a monetary one as well. Since 2001, the United States has spent over 500 billion dollars on the war effort in Afghanistan. At the same time, the war-displaced Afghans have been living on less than a dollar a day. This means that since the war has started on October 2001, to the end of February 2012; 3,736 days have passed.  Given the fact that there are over 500,000 displaced Afghans, by my calculations, we have spent an estimate of approximately 268 dollars per displaced Afghan, per day. If we are operating under the guise that we are going into a country to create a stable government that can handle its own security affairs, then why is our country displacing Afghanistan’s most impoverished citizens, while at the same time spending over 268 times what they are living off of every day? This is an obvious misappropriation of funds. Think how much more good could be done if the United States stopped spending their money on more force, and instead used these funds to bolster the local government’s ability to actually control their own population and send them back to their homes. In doing so, the United States would not only see a return of gratitude for years to come, but they would also implement a more lasting stability.

After all is said and done, and the war is over, the United States will have a giant hole to dig itself out of as far as foreign policy is concerned, within the boundaries of the middle east. The United States has shown itself to be a bellicose nation, leaving innocent casualties in its wake. Its efforts, however, will not go unpunished. In the years to come I do believe that the United States will come under more scrutiny than ever before on an international stage due to its unjustified actions toward the innocent people of Afghanistan.

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