Humanitarian Space Shrinking in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan Non-governmental organization Safety Office does not think aid workers are being targeted by the Taliban. But its director, Nic Lee, says violence in the Islamic nation has “escalated phenomenally.”

The number of attacks against Afghan and international security forces, as well as civilians, by “armed opposition groups” this year rose from 523 in February to a record 1,483 in September, according to a report released last week by ANSO.

While the high incidence of violence can be blamed on last September’s elections, ANSO says this has been a trend over the past years, with attacks rising 45 percent to 55 percent year on year.

With such security threats, foreign aid workers travel beyond Kabul “less and less,” CNN reports.

“[T]he areas considered safe have dwindled,” Brian Cavanagh, Afghanistan director of U.S.-based NGO CARE told CNN, noting that his organization has put in place more restrictions on the movement of its foreign staff.

International staff of the International Rescue Committee, meanwhile, have not been able to visit the organization’s projects in Logar and Khost for about two years, according to IRC Afghanistan director Bob Kitchen.

“Working to assure high standards of quality within our programming is an increasing challenge that demands daily attention,” he told CNN.

To counter threats posed by Afghan militants, ANSO recommends that NGOs engage with the Taliban.

As insurgents “are certain to play a permanent and increasingly political role… we recommend that NGOs start developing strategies for engaging with them rather than avoiding them,” ANSO said in its report.

About the author

  • 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.