In Afghanistan, Attacks More Frequent on NATO Aid Contractors Than NGOs

U.S. soldiers at the change of command ceremony at the NATO command center in Kabul, Afghanistan. There is a brewing debate as to whether Afghan insurgents targeting more private aid contractors sponsored by NATO countries than non-governmental organizations. Photo by: U.S. Army

Are Afghan insurgents targeting more private aid contractors than non-governmental organizations?

Some 100 humanitarian workers have so far been killed in Afghanistan this year. Most of them were employed by development firms contracted by NATO countries while fewer aid workers worked for traditional nonprofit aid groups, The New York Times reports.

NATO officials say that Afghan rebels do not distinguish between aid workers and contractors.

“Insurgents have made clear both in their rhetoric and their actions that they target NGOs and aid workers,” said Mark Jacobson, deputy senior civilian representative of NATO in Afghanistan.

But aid officials say that insurgents do make a distinction.

“It’s quite easy,” said Michiel Hofman, head of Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan . “We don’t use armed guards, we don’t have barbed wire on our gates, there’s a clear logo on our cars, and we are not associated with any program strengthening government. The government is just one of many warring parties.”

NGOs have complained that the U.S. government’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, which coordinates U.S. military efforts with development and peacekeeping work, has tarnished the apolitical, impartial image of NGOs in the Islamic nation.

>> Why Defense and Development Don’t Mix in Afghanistan

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.