The United Nations will not participate in NATO’s reconstruction strategy for the Afghan town of Marja, which one U.N. official said is equivalent to “militarization of humanitarian aid,” the New York Times reports. Military forces should focus on addressing security threats and securing humanitarian operations instead of delivering aid as part of a military strategy, the head of U.N’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan, Wael Haj-Ibrahim, said.
“If that aid is being delivered as part of a military strategy, the counterstrategy is to destroy that aid,” Haj-Ibrahim said. “Allowing the military to do it is not the best use of resources.”
While aid is central to the military’s strategy in Marja, soldiers will not deliver actual aid themselves. They will clear the area to allow the government to deliver the services.
Still, Robert Watkins, deputy special representative U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, noted: “The distribution of aid by the military gives a very difficult impression to the communities and puts the lives of humanitarian workers at risk.”