News from Afghanistan 4


Tony Blair has just completed his foreign visit to Afghanistan where, during talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, he said Afghanistan’s progress was remarkable. The Afghan President also commented on the sucesses acheived, including the return of refugees. But what do aid agencies, actually working on the ground have to say about the current situation?

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) issued a statement on the 3rd October:

UNHCR is concerned about the increasing number of people internally displaced in southern Afghanistan as a result of recent hostilities between government forces, NATO and insurgents. Since July, an estimated 15,000 families have been displaced in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan and Helmand. This fresh displacement adds new hardship to a population already hosting 116,400 people earlier uprooted by conflict and drought…

…We expect further displacement may take place until conditions are safe for the population to return to their homes. Some families were reported to have gone back from Kandahar city to Panjwai and Zhare Dasht during daylight, but to have returned to Kandahar city at night as they felt it was too insecure to stay overnight. UNHCR has no information on population movements to other districts.

On the 27th October the international red cross (ICRC) chose to warn all parties to the conflict, including British and US forces, about infringments of international law and rising civillian casualties.

ICRC deplores increasing number of civilian victims

Geneva (ICRC) ‘ Hostilities have intensified in southern Afghanistan over the past two weeks between the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) on the one hand and the armed opposition on the other.

As a result, there is serious concern regarding the situation of civilians caught in the middle of the fighting. Aerial bombardment and ground offensives in populated rural areas, together with recent suicide attacks and roadside bombs in urban areas, have significantly increased the number of innocent civilians killed, injured or displaced.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) once more calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL).

IHL requires the parties to a conflict to maintain a distinction between fighters and civilians at all times. It also requires the parties to exercise constant care in the conduct of military operations and prohibits attacks directed against civilians or civilian objects. All parties to the conflict must at all times take all feasible precautions to spare civilians and their property from the effects of attack.

All the wounded must receive adequate medical treatment and captured fighters must be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law.

In view of the growing influx of casualties in the south of Afghanistan, the ICRC has sustained its support of Kandahar’s Mirwais hospital. In addition, the organization has replenished its own emergency stocks of essential household items so that it can help civilians affected by the hostilities. It is providing this assistance in conjunction with the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

ICRC delegates will continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to assist and protect civilians, visit and register detainees, and provide health care and vital supplies in response to any urgent needs.

So why, in these situations, are we regularly fed the official government line with so little critical analysis? Part of the answer may lie in one of the common myths of liberal democracy; the imparital nature of the BBC, which is neatly dissected on ZNet.


4 thoughts on “News from Afghanistan

  • Sabretache

    The BBC 'impartial'? – what a laugh!

    The BBC has a world view that is rigid, non-negotiable and comes with its own promotional agenda that is pretty much immune to outside influence (other than from the government of the day that is). It is applied to every facet of life, from the insignificant to the gravest matters of State and International affairs.

    Evidence, no matter how compelling, that does not fit comfortably with this agenda is, in ascending order of its perceived 'difficulty' either ridiculed, patronised, obfuscated, demonised or ignored.

    Having been on the receiving end of its 'impatiality' throughout the Labour Partys' decade long campaign to outlaw hunting (that trivial little matter that warranted over 700 hours of Parliamentary time to 'resolve' with a legislative abortion), believe me I know all about it's 'impartiality'.

  • johnf

    sabretache

    The comments on the BBC and hunting are by and large true – they're a bunch of metropolitan wankers and bossyboots – but they did do a really moving and powerful hourlong film by Peter Oborne on hare coursing and the last ever Waterloo Cup – which managed to eschew the usual hysterical kangaroo court and presented it as the death of a traditional and beautiful culture.

  • johnf

    sabretache

    The comments on the BBC and hunting are by and large true – they're a bunch of metropolitan wankers and bossyboots – but they did do a really moving and powerful hourlong film by Peter Oborne on hare coursing and the last ever Waterloo Cup – which managed to eschew the usual hysterical kangaroo court and presented it as the death of a traditional and beautiful culture.

  • Sabretache

    JohnF:

    Granted they screened a few features which gave a fairly balanced view – but by and large they were calculated to counter allegations of editorial bias and usually not BBC initiated productions either. I'm talking about the editorial mindset which ALWAYS gave more time to the anti-hunting argument (including the nasty demonising aspects of it – which of course was about all it amounted to anyway) in spite of committed anti's being outnumbered hundreds to one by the people they were intent on demonising. It happened time and time again throughout the seven years that I had some responsibility for countering it. Whenever the subject of hunting was raised the anti's were given more time. They only needed to field one or two people at a Hunting demonstration of several thousand and you could guarantee they were the ones whose views were given prominance.

    OK hunting may not be the most important issue in the world (though to many of those affected it is) but it is vastly illustrative of how the BBC promotes its own view on anything and everything.

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