Sunday, March 13, 2005


Bush Administration Fails Afghanistan

Remember how we were going to rebuild Afghanistan? How we weren't going to forget them like we did after the Soviet Union left? How the Iraq war wouldn't stop us? Reality disagrees:
Cold exposes Afghanistan's broken promises
By Ahmed Rashid
BBC News

The winter weather death toll in Afghanistan has exposed the country's acute lack of infrastructure, writes journalist Ahmed Rashid in his latest guest column for the BBC News website.

More than 600 people, many of them children, have died in a prolonged bout of bad winter weather in Afghanistan that has included unprecedented snowfall, heavy rain and below freezing temperatures.

In some eastern provinces ravenous wolves have been attacking equally hungry children.

The United Nations is just short of declaring "a humanitarian crisis" for Afghanistan.
There has been no lack of response to the foul weather affecting 14 of the country's 34 provinces.

More than 400,000 people have received food and other aid from the Afghan government, US-led coalition forces, Nato peacekeeping forces, UN agencies and Afghan and Western non-governmental organisations.

But they face the problem of how to get to them when snowfall has blocked mountain passes, avalanches have cut off villages, the few dirt track roads are impassable and there are no telephones to warn of impending disasters.
Nearly three and half years after the war that defeated the Taleban and despite the remarkable political progress Afghanistan has made, the lack of infrastructure continues to haunt this country.

New roads, power stations, water supplies and investment in agriculture which the majority of the population depend on, are still missing.
The kind of effort the US-led coalition has put into rebuilding the power grid in Baghdad has never been seen in Kabul.

In the meantime the lack of investment in Afghan agriculture has led to farmers growing opium poppies, which has led to drugs generating as much as $6.8bn in income between 2002 and 2004.

Drugs now account for 60% of the economy, but you cannot blame the farmers when they have nothing else to turn to in order to feed their families.

"Our team found the overwhelming majority of people hold a sense of pessimism and fear that reconstruction is bypassing them" says Daud Saba, one of the authors of a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) report on Afghanistan.

The report ranks the country 173 out of 178 countries in development indices.

There has been rapid progress in many fields such as health and education and five million children have gone back to school.

Yet the UNDP report states Afghanistan still has "the worst education system in the world" and it is the world leader in infant deaths, while one woman dies in pregnancy every 30 minutes.
Source: BBC News. (Emphasis added.)

For that matter, you'd think the "right-to-life" folks would be more concerned with fighting infant mortality and deaths during pregnancy. I wonder whether it is really because they care more about eliminating birth control than they care about preserving life?


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