Posted By: Rebecca W., Erica in Afghanistan
Many of the CIVIC blog entries discussing assistance that has been provided to civilians in Afghanistan credit the Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP) for helping individuals. While ACAP is one of the best functioning civilian-assistance programs in Afghanistan, some of the civilians and NGO workers that I have talked to have lamented the fact that the assistance takes so long to reach civilians. Other problems have also been highlighted
One problem that was mentioned a number of times during my time in Kandahar was the difficulty field staff face in verifying the damage that has allegedly occurred to civilian property, and checking that the money is being properly spent. ACAP’s system of verification is important and necessary, but the security situation in Kandahar poses significant problems. I interviewed two civilians at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) office who told me that they had been given ACAP assistance to rebuild their houses that were destroyed in an ISAF aerial bombardment. The problem they are facing, however, is that ACAP is providing the assistance in four installments. They have given the family the first installment, but want to check on the progress of the building before the other installments are provided. But it is too dangerous to go into the family’s village at the moment as it is located in the heartland of Taliban territory.
ACAP has told these men that they need to guarantee the safety of the ACAP observer who will view the first stages of their reconstruction. But, as the men explained, “we cannot guarantee our own safety up there. So how can we protect an observer? The Taliban will see us bringing the observer and they will say that we are helping the government or bringing spies to the area.” These men therefore face significant problems: they have already hired the builders to construct their house, relying on the ACAP assistance that they were promised. “Now the laborers are asking for money and they have complained to the Taliban. The Taliban are giving us warnings and we are in a very difficult position.” This type of climate, with ongoing warfare and tense political struggles, makes it difficult for any aid program to operate. Ultimately, it is the civilians who suffer most.