Afghanistan Secures Aid; UN Panel Warns on Security


By Sayed Salahuddin and Linda Sieg

January 22, 2002

Afghanistan secured aid pledges worth billions of dollars Tuesday, but lack of security and lawlessness in parts of the shattered country raised questions over how effective the donations would be.

At the United Nations in New York, an expert panel warned peace and security might still be under threat in Afghanistan because fighters from the defeated Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda may still be stocking missiles and chemical weapons.

And later Tuesday, the U.S. government faces its first legal challenge over its treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners, the Los Angeles Times said, after controversial pictures of the detainees angered human rights advocates. Almost 160 prisoners have been taken from Afghanistan to a U.S. naval base on Cuba as Washington pressed its hunt for bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States, and his one-time protector Mullah Mohammad Omar.

At a conference in Tokyo, rich country donors, many of whom provided support for the military campaign in Afghanistan, swapped guns for check books. An official summary of the meeting showed international pledges of more than $4.5 billion to rebuild Afghanistan, of which $1.8 billion will be provided this year.

Swift and substantial aid is critical for the survival of the month-old but penniless interim administration of Hamid Karzai in what is one of the world's poorest countries. Karzai had told delegates from more than 60 countries and organizations he hoped to return "with my hands full" to a country where life expectancy is just 44 years and one in four children dies before the age of five.

Donors don't want the money ending up in the hands of corrupt officials or rival warlords, some of whom are still feuding. "I think there is a strong recognition that funding is going to stop unless it goes to the sorts of programs we are trying to reach," said World Bank President James Wolfensohn.

"None of us thinks it is utopia," he said. "We all know it's going to be tough to make sure that the money gets to the place it should go." A defense ministry official in Kabul said the government wanted to use some of the aid money to set up a national army of up to 250,000 men to guarantee security vital for reconstruction.

Underscoring the security problems, the U.N. World Food Program reported that gunmen had looted a warehouse of 40 tons of food intended for the drought-hit north of Afghanistan, in the second attack in a week. And officials said that as skirmishes between rival warlords in the north had stopped, another conflict in western Herat loomed, threatening to split the coalition along ethnic and tribal lines.


Donors want Afghanistan to destroy its opium industry, which a United Nations expert panel said may be funding Taliban and al Qaeda efforts to stock weapons and missiles. Based on "information from competent sources," the panel said the Taliban possessed surface to air missiles with a range of up to 180 miles which could be fitted with conventional, nuclear or chemical warheads.

It said the international community and Afghanistan must crack down on the opium industry and destroy terrorist training camps to secure peace. If not, they would "continue to present a threat to peace and security, not only to Afghanistan but to the region as a whole." As donors ended their Tokyo meeting, U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz prepared to hear a petition in Los Angeles alleging the detainees in Cuba were held in violation of the U.S. constitution and the Geneva Convention.

The Los Angeles Times said that the petition asked that U.S. authorities produce the prisoners in a U.S. court to explain their detention and accord them due-process guarantees. International controversy was sparked at the weekend when the U.S. Department of

Defense released photographs showing the prisoners in orange jumpsuits kneeling down, with their arms manacled and wearing large black goggles and ear cups. The United States has not classified the captives as prisoners of war, a label which carries specific rights under the Geneva Convention.

But both the International Committee of the Red Cross and U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson have said they consider the captives prisoners of war. In a separate development, gunmen attacked a U.S. Information Service office in Calcutta, India Tuesday, killing four Indian policemen and injuring 20 people. No U.S. staff at the center were affected by the attack.

A U.S. consulate spokesman in Calcutta told the CNN news network he was not aware of any specific threats against U.S. interests in the city. "I would not want to speculate who these people were or why they did what they did this morning," Rex Moser added. In the military campaign in Afghanistan, the U.S. Central Command said Monday an

Air Force RQ-1 Predator drone crashed while returning from a routine flight, bringing to three the number of unmanned aircraft known to have crashed in the conflict. The crash, like earlier ones, was not the result of enemy fire, the Tampa, Florida-based command, said.

More Information on Afghanistan

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C íŸ 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.