UNAMA humanitarian chief to turn spotlight back on Afghanistan

The “City of Screams” in Bamyan, Afghanistan. U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan Michael Keating has embarked on a 12-day tour to shine attention on the Asian country’s evolving humanitarian situation. Photo by: Aurora Alambra / U.N. Photo / CC BY-NC-ND

The deputy special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan has embarked on a tour of European countries and the United States to shine attention on the Asian country’s evolving, but still “dramatic,” humanitarian situation, due in part to a severe winter season and flooding.

Michael Keating began his 12-day political and diplomatic tour Tuesday (Sept. 4) with three objectives: highlight Afghanistan’s new landscape, brought on by recent partnerships with the international community; remind donor countries that Afghanistan still has serious humanitarian assistance needs; and discuss the role of the United Nations in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.

“The funding for humanitarian activities has remained stubbornly low,” Keating said in an interview with the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Only 33 percent, or $150 million, of a $437 million U.N. appeal for 2012 has been funded over the past eight months.

Afghanistan ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the Human Development Index.

Two months ago, 70 countries and international organizations pledged $16 billion for Afghanistan’s development and economic sectors through 2015.

But international funding isn’t always thought to be the answer to long-term growth, especially in the case of Afghanistan: Government and aid officials have said poor donor coordination, corruption and flawed assistance models are among factors slowing growth. The solution is complex, but increased transparency and accountability, and the division of aid from military objectives may offer the start to a clearer way forward.

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About the author

  • Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is an award-winning journalist based in New York City. Her coverage on politics, social justice issues, development and climate change has appeared in a variety of international news outlets, including The Guardian, Slate and The Atlantic. She has reported from the U.N. Headquarters, in addition to nine countries outside of the U.S. Amy received her master of arts degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2014. Last year she completed a yearlong fellowship on the oil industry and climate change and co-published her findings with a team in the Los Angeles Times.

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