Australia needs to “dramatically” increase its aid to Afghanistan, a high-ranking official of Australia’s federal opposition says.
Sen. David Johnston, who serves as defense spokesperson of the Federal Opposition, suggested a rethink of Australia’s aid program in Afghanistan is “necessary.” He said the Australian Agency for International Development’s presence in Afghanistan is “extremely” low and should be “increased dramatically,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Johnston made the remarks while analyzing the challenges faced by Australian troops following an attack on houses in Kandahar allegedly led by a U.S. soldier. At least 16 people died in the incident, according to BBC.
The senator noted that Australian soldiers appear on the right track in building good relations with Afghans. Australia’s civilian engagement, however, “concerns” him because he doesn’t “believe there has been such earnest commitment on the civilian side as is necessary in a counterinsurgency,” he said.
Johnston’s suggestion echoes a call by Peter Leahy, Australia’s former chief of army, for a “more comprehensive civilian effort” in Afghanistan, the Sydney Morning Herald says.
Australia has allocated 165.1 million Australian dollars ($174 million) for Afghan development programs in 2012, an increase from last year’s AU$ 141.2 million.
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