Afghan Ban on Private Security Firms Holding Off USD6B US Aid

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah talks with Lt. Col. William Johnson during his Feb. 9 visit to the Afghan province of Nangarhar. Since November, USAID has postponed the execution of some USD6 billion worth of aid projects for Afghanistan due to the Afghan government's ban on the use of private security services to protect aid workers. Photo by: S.K. Vemmer / U.S. State Department

The Afghan government’s ban on the use of private security services has put off the implementation of some USD6 billion worth of approved U.S. aid projects in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. official.

Due to the ban, the U.S. Agency for International Development has been deferring health, agriculture, infrastructure and energy projects since November, a senior USAID official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“No new development projects can get underway because they can’t contract security,” the official said. “We have expressed concern to the Afghan government that this is a wasted opportunity.”

In August, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree to disband private security firms in four months. The Afghan government announced on Oct. 27 that it was postponing the implementation of the ban, which was originally scheduled to be enforced Dec. 17.

>> Is Afghanistan Softening Stance on Private Security Service?

A committee, which was headed by Afghanistan’s interior minister and included representatives from NATO, the International Security Assistance Force and major international donors, was due to hand in a timetable for the phasing out of private security firms that render services to development projects by Nov. 15.

>> Afghanistan Defers Private Security Service Ban

In line with the Obama administration’s plan of increasing civilian-led efforts in helping to rebuild Afghanistan, USAID is eyeing high funding levels for the Islamic nation through 2012 despite Republican threats to cut the U.S. foreign aid budget, a senior USAID official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

After 2012, USAID funding for Afghanistan is expected to return to levels that the aid agency typically offers to a country of Afghanistan’s size and needs.

“It’s not sustainable. A surge is a surge,” the official said.

Read more about U.S.development aid.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.