7 thoughts on “NATO injures Afghan schoolgirls

  1. Amnesty says half a million Afghans displaced

    Posted: Feb 23, 2012 7:37 AM Updated: Feb 23, 2012 9:17 AM

    By DEB RIECHMANN
    Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Every day, 400 people join the ranks of half a million displaced by fighting and natural disaster in Afghanistan and the country’s government has been hampering international efforts to help them, Amnesty International said Thursday.

    A new, disturbing report by Amnesty said more people have fled their homes as fighting has spread to areas of the country that had been relatively peaceful. According to the report, Afghan government has little political will or resources to help them find adequate shelter, food and water.

    Many are left to starve and die, even in the capital Kabul.

    “If you go to these informal settlements, the images will haunt you,” said Michael Bochenek, legal and policy director for Amnesty, describing a shelter near a mosque in Herat province where latrines were leaking into the ground so that “people were walking and living on top of raw sewage.”

    Up to 35,000 of the internally displaced are living in temporary camps in the Afghan capital, according to the more than 100-page report. Their plight has been aggravated by the worst cold snap and heaviest snowfall Kabul has experienced in 15 years.

    “Thousands of people are finding themselves living in freezing, cramped conditions and on the brink of starvation,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty’s researcher in Afghanistan.

    Displacements are on the rise, the report said, with an estimated 91,000 Afghans having fled their homes because of the conflict in the first six months of 2011 – up 46 percent from the 42,000 displaced in the first half of 2010.

    Sayedullah, a 30-year-old man living in a makeshift settlement in Kabul, told reporters he fled his village in Surobi district of Kabul province because of fighting between insurgents and NATO troops.

    “This year, one of my children died because of the cold weather,” the man said “We have been told that we can stay in this camp until spring and then we have to leave. Where can we go?”

    Another displaced man – 38-year-old Mir Alam who fled fighting in southern Afghanistan – described his dire living conditions in the capital.

    “I don’t think that any animal will be able to live where we live in Kabul,” he said.

    Throughout Afghanistan, humanitarian organizations cannot deliver effective aid to temporary camps because they are prohibited from assisting in ways that make the settlements more permanent, Mosadiq said. So instead of digging permanent wells, for instance, water must be delivered to the camps.

    “This is a largely hidden, but horrific, humanitarian and human rights crisis,” she said.

    Afghans who have fled to the cities because of fighting in more remote areas face scarce food and expensive housing, the report said. They live on land they don’t own in dwellings made from mud, poles, plastic, plywood and cardboard under an ever-present threat of eviction.

    Crowded camps with poor sanitation and little access to health care promote the spread of disease and women often give birth in unsanitary conditions without skilled assistance, which only raises the risk of maternal and infant death in an already impoverished country, Amnesty said.

    Children in these camps also have little access to education and some are not allowed to go to school if they cannot produce national identification cards, which authorities say can only be secured in their home province.

    But Mosadiq urged authorities to use the international aid available and remove conditions placed on humanitarian assistance.

    “Even with its limited resources, the Afghan government can aid its displaced citizens,” she said.

    Bochenek said some government officials Amnesty spoke with denied that displacement is a problem and described these people as “economic migrants,” no different than other low-income people in the impoverished country.

    Some local officials told aid workers they could not help the displaced.

    “We saw letters issued by the provincial government of Herat that said, effectively, don’t direct any assistance specifically to displaced people,” Bochenek said.

    “The theory is that since they don’t want to either encourage them to stay or even acknowledge that displacement is a problem they’re going to pretend that it doesn’t exist,” he said. “This is make-believe as public policy.”

    Amnesty’s report on the plight of the internally displaced in Afghanistan was based on three years of research by the London-based group, which interviewed more than 100 internally displaced persons and returning refugees in 12 slum communities in and around Kabul, Herat in western Afghanistan and Mazar-e-Sharif in the north.

    The organization also met with government officials and international agencies.

    Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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  3. Afghan Killed As Protesters Attempt To Overrun NATO Base

    http://en.trend.az/regions/world/afghanistan/1996380.html

    Trend News Agency
    February 24, 2012

    One Afghan killed as protesters attempt to overrun NATO base

    One Afghan was killed on Friday as protesters tried to overrun a Hungarian base in northern Afghanistan, officials said.

    “More than 1,000 people are protesting right now in front of a Hungarian PRT base in provincial capital Pul-e-Khumri city,” said Zamanuddin Husaini, the deputy police chief of Baghlan province, DPA reported.

    “The police fired into the air to disperse the crowd. Eleven people, including four police and four soldiers, were injured in the clashes,” he said.

    “They were able to get past the barbwire and remove the blast walls.”

    PRTs, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, are NATO-led joint military and civilian initiatives working in the areas of development and reconstruction.

    ====

    Germans Abandon Base Amid Afghan Protests

    http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120224-40957.html

    Deutsche Presse-Agentur
    February 24, 2012

    Germans ditch Afghan base after Koran burning

    After 300 protesters massed outside the German Taloqan base in northern Afghanistan, the commander withdrew the 50 troops to the larger Kunduz base camp 70 kilometres away, abandoning the camp around a month ahead of schedule.

    A Bundeswehr spokesman said the troops had taken all military vehicles with them, but it remained unclear whether the soldiers would return at a later date to complete the clear-out. The relatively small camp is said to be difficult to secure, since it is in the middle of the town of Taloqan, capital of the Takhar province, with a population of 200,000.

    State broadcaster ZDF reported that stones had been thrown at the camp, which was also attacked in May last year, when several people were shot dead. Taloqan is also the town where an Afghan police chief and two Bundeswehr soldiers were killed in an attack on the governor’s palace last year.

    Unrest has escalated dramatically following the alleged burning of several copies of the Koran by US soldiers at their Bagram base earlier this week…

    Several people have been killed during violent protests since then, and two soldiers from the NATO-led international mission ISAF were shot dead by an Afghan soldier on Thursday.

    US President Barack Obama’s official apology to his Afghan counterpart Harmid Karzai has done little to quell the protests, which have been joined by thousands of Afghans across the country.

    The Taliban has sworn revenge for the incident and called on Afghan soldiers to abandon their posts, promising to welcome all deserters as “heroes.”

    ====

    NATO Agreement: Canada Plans German Air Force Hub Despite Protests

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1135692–canadian-plans-for-a-military-air-force-hub-in-germany-go-ahead-despite-protests?bn=1

    Toronto Star
    Febraury 23, 2012

    Canadian plans for a military air force hub in Germany go ahead despite protests
    Richard J. Brennan

    -In 2009, the Canadian Forces operated European Operational Support Hub at the United States Air Force base at Spangdahlem, Germany, in order to move supplies and military personnel to Afghanistan. The proposed location will serve as a more permanent location.
    -According to a National Defence release, the support hub would provide Canadian Forces with a flexible and cost-efficient location to deploy and sustain international operations…

    Canada is pushing ahead with plans for a military logistics base near Cologne, Germany, despite civilian protests, including those from the city’s mayor’s office.

    A spokesperson for Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office said Canada has every right under a NATO agreement to use the military side of the Cologne-Bonn Airport regardless of the protestations.

    “Canada’s decision to make use of Germany’s airport is based on the long-standing NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which gives the militaries of NATO partner nations legal authority to use one another’s facilities,” he told the Star Thursday.

    He said Canada has the full support of the German defence ministry to use the Cologne-Bonn Airport.

    Both Cologne Lord Mayor Juergen Roters and Michael Garvens, the civilian chair of the airport board, have rejected Canada’s plans, saying the airport is already far too busy and a constant source of noise complaints.

    The airport, a major transport hub in Europe, is divided between civilian and military operations.

    A spokesman for Lord Mayor Roters said he is dead set against the Canadian plan, especially since he was never consulted.

    “He won’t agree…because we have a serious problem with the neighbours of the airport with the problem of noise pollution,” Gregory Timmer told the Star Thursday.

    “Everything coming to the airport, especially to the military part of the airport will create more noise, so the resistance of the neighbours will be stronger and stronger. That’s a problem for the airport in total.”

    The Cologne-Bonn Airport allows unrestricted night flying, which only exacerbates the noise complaints, Timmer said.

    MacKay last week announced the location of the new Canadian Forces’ European Operational Support Hub at the airport.

    “It is a pleasure to build on the long-standing relationship that Canada has developed with Germany as Allies through NATO, and in operations such as in Afghanistan,” he said during German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere’s visit to Ottawa.

    In 2009, the Canadian Forces operated European Operational Support Hub at the United States Air Force base at Spangdahlem, Germany, in order to move supplies and military personnel to Afghanistan. The proposed location will serve as a more permanent location.

    A day after MacKay made his Feb. 14 announcement, Gavens issued a news release stating that “with respect to the additional noise exposure, especially during the night times, we reject these plans.”

    Timmer said it was his understanding that a group of Canadians visited the military operation at the Cologne-Bonn Airport “but nobody talked to the city, to the mayor or to local government, and that’s a problem.”

    According to a National Defence release, the support hub would provide Canadian Forces with a flexible and cost-efficient location to deploy and sustain international operations and provide the opportunity to respond to crises in a timely manner, whether it’s humanitarian relief, peace support, or combat operations.

    ====

    Tbilisi: U.S., Georgia Defense Chiefs Push Deepening Cooperation

    http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24480

    Civil Georgia
    February 23, 2012

    Georgian, U.S. Defense Officials Discuss ‘Deepening Cooperation’

    Tbilisi: Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia met on February 23 in Tbilisi visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Celeste Wallander, and “discussed prospects of deepening bilateral cooperation,” the Georgian Ministry of Defense said.

    It said that the officials discussed “how they can build on existing successful programs to help the Georgian military continue its reform and defense modernization efforts that supports Georgia’s self defense.”

    Also on February 23 Georgian Defense Minister spoke on phone with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who expressed his condolences over death of three Georgian soldiers in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, according to the Georgian MoD.

    Earlier on February 23, the visiting U.S. delegation, which also includes Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, Deputy Director for Plans, Policy and Strategy at the U.S. European Command, also met with representatives of the Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, according to MoD.

    During the first day of visit on February 22, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense met with President Saakashvili and traveled to Gori in central Georgia where she visited National Defense Academy.

    ============================================================================

    http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24481

    Civil Georgia
    February 23, 2012

    U.S. DoD Official Speaks of Defense Ties with Georgia

    Tbilisi: Georgia and the United States are enhancing defense relations by advancing them into “new areas”, but it does not mean ceasing working on “the fundamentals of defense institution building” – something that has been focus of the U.S. assistance to the Georgian military in recent few years, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Celeste Wallander, said.

    Speaking before students and officers at the Georgian National Defense Academy in Gori on February 22, Wallander said that in addition to preparing Georgian troops for Afghan deployment the U.S.-Georgia defense cooperation had focused over the past three years on “areas such as the development of defense doctrine, the organization of the appropriate structures and systems in the defense ministry and in the armed forces, and the establishment of an effective professional military education program.”

    “While your work in these areas is not complete, our own assessments, as well as NATO’s, indicate that your reform efforts have begun to build a military that is not only more interoperable with the United States and NATO, but also one that is beginning to meet Western and Euro-Atlantic standards of conduct,” said Wallander, whose remarks were made available on the U.S. embassy website.

    She also said that both the Georgian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense were “very pleased with the announcement our two presidents made to enhance our defense cooperation.”

    “But advancing our relationship into new areas of cooperation does not mean we will cease to cooperate in and focus on the fundamentals of defense institution building that have brought you success thus far,” Wallander said without discussing details of “new areas” of cooperation.

  4. Pingback: French warplanes kill Afghan civilians | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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