Afghanistan: Humanitarian Swindlers

The fine words are just that, Afghanistan is being pacified brutally while the killers cover up civilian casualties and lie about the level of aid they actually are delivering. Crime & war, business as usual, Afghanistan is the imperial blood sacrifice, money (always) for military deployment, a pittance for that ‘humanitarian’ brand that sells so well, the figures betray the real intention- Afghanistan’s international backers have left the country billions of dollars short of the money promised to the poverty stricken country at last summer’s high-profile Paris aid conference, according to analysis by the Afghan government.

While $21bn (€16.8bn, £14.8bn) in aid was officially pledged by world governments at the conference in June, nearly a third of the total has proved to be old money that had been “double pledged”.

According to a detailed study by the Afghan ministry of finance, the US double pledged $3bn, while all of the $780m promised by the European Union had been announced previously. In total about $7bn, a third of the total, was double-pledged money.

A senior development official in Kabul said: “Everyone knew at the time this was not new money, but there was pressure from everyone, including the Afghan government, to come up with a big number.”

It is a problem that has hit all five of the international donor conferences held since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, with the ministry estimating that $11bn of the total $44.5bn promised over the years has been old money, re-announced.

The Afghan study also reveals that large parts of the National Development Strategy laid out by the Afghan government will go unfunded. The strategy, which cost an estimated $15m to prepare and was approved by donors at the Paris conference, sets out the government’s development priorities for the next four years.

The NDS puts a heavy emphasis on improving the country’s agricultural base but the finance ministry report shows that rural development will be underfunded by $412m in 2009 alone. Overall, there will be a $3.1bn shortfall for this year, with other key sectors, including health, education and infrastructure all suffering for lack of funds.

In a sign of where international priorities lie, nearly half of all available money will be spent on building up the security forces.