In Afghanistan, Aid Groups Advised to Seek Taliban Permission

Former Taliban members surrender their weapons. Aid groups are advised to seek permission from the Taliban to work in areas they control. Photo by: Fraidoon Poya / UNAMA

Aid groups operating in Afghanistan should dialogue with and seek permission from the Taliban to work in areas controlled by insurgents, a non-governmental organization has noted.

The Taliban are “anticipating authority” and becoming increasingly confident that they will be able to return to power, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office said in its latest quarterly report. ANSO is an independent nonprofit organization that provides aid groups with information regarding the safety of Afghan areas where they are operating.

“We recommend that NGOs start developing strategies for engaging with them rather than avoiding them,” said Nic Lee, ANSO’s director, according to Agence France-Presse.

In its report, ANSO warned that some parts of Afghanistan, particularly in the north, are “in danger of slipping beyond any control.” The report also notes that the Taliban are “increasingly mature, complex and effective.”

Meanwhile, Medecins San Frontieres UK Executive Director Marc DuBois said that advice to engage with insurgents and seek their permission to operate in regions they control is “hardly groundbreaking counsel.”

“Humanitarians working in the most violent parts of the world always seek to maintain dialogue with the parties to a conflict – state or non-state, military or irregular,” DuBois wrote in a letter to the Guardian. “To do otherwise and make choices about to whom we talk would mean jeopardizing our capacity to provide aid to those most in need.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.