Afghanistan at a glance
A Security-Driven Agenda
Afghanistan is best known for the ousting the Taliban regime by international forces following the September 11th attacks and the continuing conflict in the south and east of the country. Security, counterterrorism, counternarcotics and state-building issues therefore drive international involvement and aid in the country, with humanitarian concerns given scant attention. However, widespread poverty, the lack of state services, conflict, insecurity and recurring natural disasters expose the most vulnerable, in particular returning refugees and internally displaced persons, to a complex but often hidden humanitarian crisis.
The dominance of the international security agenda has tested the most basic humanitarian principals endorsed by the Good Humanitarian Donorship Initiative – including that aid be impartial, neutral, independent, and in accordance with need. This has contributed to violence of humanitarian aid agencies, resulting in the death of 40 aid workers in 2007, and a drastic decline in access to the most needy population. Furthermore, much of the standard architecture for the delivery of humanitarian aid, such as a Consolidated Appeals Process or a strong OCHA presence, is largely absent. This raises the question of the effectiveness of the UN humanitarian reform agenda, and other initiatives such as the GHD, in the context of Afghanistan.