Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Afghan mess

Some $10billion (£5bn) in aid promised to Afghanistan has still to be delivered, aid organisation Oxfam has said and of the money that is , 40% goes back to donor countries in "corporate profits and consultant salaries," . Most full-time expatriate consultants working for private companies in Afghanistan cost 250,000 to 500,000 dollars a year . This is some 200 times the average annual salary of an Afghan civil servant, who is paid less than £500.
Five American companies are named as having scooped the lion's share of their country's cash . The five US companies said in the report to swallow almost half of USAID's Afghanistan budget are KBR, the Louis Berger Group, Bearing Point, Chemonics International and Dyncorp International.
The report asserts "Vast sums of aid are lost in corporate profits of contractors and sub-contractors, which can be as high as 50 per cent on a single contract. A vast amount of aid is absorbed by high salaries, with generous allowances, and other costs of expatriates working for consulting firms and contractors." It also says the Afghan government has no idea where more than £1 billion of the aid money has been spent. A stretch of road between Kabul city centre and the airport that cost £1.2 million a kilometre – at least four times the average local cost.

The Scotsman says "The consultants' six-figure salaries are in shocking contrast to the millions of Afghans who live in extreme poverty. About half of the 27 million population are thought to live on 50p a day, and one in five children dies before his or her fifth birthday."

"Western countries are failing to deliver" is the clear message of the Oxfam report

Seems that the only thing that the USA/UK Alliance can deliver is bombs , and thats never very accurate , either .

USAid official confirmed that since 2001 it had only spent two-thirds of the money it pledged - a shortfall of $8.5billion . And the official said only 6% of the overall budget was spent through the Afghan government "to ensure US taxpayers' money could be accounted for" - implying a lack of trust in the Afghan government .

So just who are we fighting for ?

Over the same period the European commission and Germany distributed less than two-thirds of their respective $1.7bn and $1.2bn commitments while the World Bank distributed just over half of the $1.6bn it committed.

The Oxfam report points out that while the US military spends $100 million a day, the average amount of aid spent by all donors combined has been just $7 million a day since 2001. Canadian army gunners in Afghanistan are now cleared to fire the Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells at Taliban militants - at the cost of $150,000 a round (Ordinary high-explosive rounds cost up to $2,000 apiece.) The funds going towards reconstruction are, meanwhile, just "a fraction" of military expenditure, with 25 billion dollars spent on security-related assistance, such as building the Afghan security force, since 2001

So much for the humanitarian side of the intervention that has been often lauded by the invaders .

Just 13 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces are categorised by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as "poppy free" ( The country supplies more than 90 per cent of the world's opium, the raw ingredient of heroin) , and of those who aren't in the opium trade "...although they have lost a profitable crop, for now another alternative is bridging the gap....In the autumn vast forests of marijuana plants scatter the landscape.."

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