Meeting with the UN

Posted By: Erica

Yesterday I met with several officers of the United Nations mission here, referred to as UNAMA. The folks at UNAMA have themselves been trying to figure out how to coordinate support for civilian casualties. They agree with CIVIC that the international community should provide support for civilian casualties caused by international troops. They also share our concern that funds like ACAP and POHRF could be better coordinated both among NATO states and with agencies within the Afghan government. Having emergency relief or aid delivered and coordinated by an Afghan agency – perhaps at first in partnership with experienced humanitarian organizations – would strengthen the government’s longer-term capacity to aid those who have suffered the direct consequences of conflict.

Life as an ex-pat

Posted By: Erica

Most of my blogs have focused on work issues, but my CIVIC colleagues have encouraged me to post a bit on life in Kabul.  Contrary to the perceptions of some of my friends and family, I don’t hear bombs or see the ongoing conflict on a daily basis. Life in Kabul for non-Afghan ex-patriates (ex-pats) is affected more by the preventive security measures than by actual violence.  Journalists, freelancers, independent entrepreneurs, and some NGO staff tend to have the least restrictions and may enjoy a relatively normal life.  They may walk in the street sometimes, buy their own groceries and supplies, go to Afghan restaurants (as opposed to sticking only to the string of rocket-and mortar-secured ex-pat restaurants), take regular Afghan taxis, hike or go climbing in the mountains surrounding Kabul, etc.

Bureaucratic obstacles…

Posted By: Erica

I’ve shared several stories so far about those who have benefitted from the USAID-funded Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP), such as Masood and Hazi. As mentioned before, though, this is not the only program benefitting civilians in Afghanistan. In late 2006, several NATO countries chipped in to fund the Post-Operations Humanitarian Relief Fund (POHRF) – a fund providing emergency relief to civilian victims of ISAF operations. This is huge in terms of signaling the importance of making amends, helping where you’ve harmed. But this fund would carry a lot more weight if it were supported by all NATO member countries in Afghanistan. So far it is only supported by nine countries: Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Iceland and the United States.

The ISAF Conference

Posted By: Erica

On Monday I attended an ISAF-sponsored conference focused on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT). The three-day conference is designed to orient a new rotation of PRT commanders to Afghanistan, and to allow existing commanders to touch base with ISAF leaders, government officials, or other organizations relevant to their work. They reserve one day of the three-day conference for “civilians” to attend. Topics discussed ranged from protecting historical sites, to infrastructure building techniques, to how PRTs can be involved in developing Afghanistan’s energy capacity.

Ft. Belvoir, VA:  Civilian and military cooperation

Posted By: Marla B.

Today, with Jon Tracy, I visited Ft. Belvoir to participate in one of their training sessions. A satellite campus for the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir supports the CGSC’s mission to educate and develop leaders for full spectrum joint, interagency and multinational operations. It reminded me once again of the importance of dialogue between civilian and military folks.