Afghanistan: aid agencies call for peacekeeping beyond Kabul

 Aid agencies have called on the foreign secretary Jack Straw to widen the UN's Afghan peacekeeping mandate. In a letter delivered on Friday, Christian Aid and other aid agencies ask Jack Straw to sponsor a UN resolution to expand the role of the multinational security force in Afghanistan. The appeal came as NATO took over the international security assistance force (ISAF) in Kabul, the Afghan capital. But the UN mandate for ISAF only covers Kabul and the aid agencies strongly believe peace keeping troops should be based right across the country. "What is needed is not a long-term commitment from NATO to provide security in the capital city, Kabul, but rather a shorter term commitment to provide comprehensive and, in so far as possible, national security in the regions, until a properly trained and paid Afghan police force and army can provide this," Christian Aid, AfghanAid, Care International UK, Save the Children UK, and TearFund said. "The security situation in Afghanistan has shown a marked deterioration in recent months. In the longer term the most satisfactory way to achieve a secure and stable Afghanistan is to establish a properly trained police force and Afghan national army. Regrettably, such fundamental security institutions are unlikely to be fully functioning for some years." The letter also said local struggles for power, fuelled in some areas by the opium trade, are leading to a growing fragmentation of the country: "Growing criminality is compounding the insecurity felt by the Afghan population; there are numerous examples of robberies, thefts and assaults." is on course to be a sell-out.

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