Saturday 20 June 2009

Local conflict key to peace in Afghanistan

Local conflict in Afghanistan is increasing at a faster rate than the insurgency and armed conflict, says a new report from the Afghan organisation Cooperation for Peace and Unity.

I have been impressed by the quality of CPAU’s work and have commented on several of their previous reports. This latest report, Trends in local Afghan conflicts, is based on CPAU’s research into local conflicts in five provinces in the country. All five local conflicts were the subject of separate reports and this latest publication pulls all this work together.

It notes that there has been a significant increase in local conflicts since 2005 and that these conflicts are increasingly involving whole communities and that they are increasingly threatening livelihoods and undermining the ability of government and aid agencies to work effectively.

“Local conflict is affecting many communities which struggle to find suitable ways of resolving their disagreements. Many of these conflicts turn violent and they are being aggravated by the worsening security situation in Afghanistan,” said CPAU’s director, Kanishka Nawabi.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, CPAU has also found that the work of international development agencies can exacerbate these local conflicts. They cite several cases where development projects have led to water and land disputes that have threatened the ability of local people to support themselves.

“The international community has an obligation to ensure that its programmes in Afghanistan do not increase local conflict and make the situation worse for local people,” says Nawabi.

CPAU wants more peace building and conflict resolution projects to help resolve these disputes and also wants to improve access to justice and non-violent conflict resolution. It is calling on the international aid agencies to ensure that their programmes address local conflict and include funding for peace building, including a new programme for charity workers.

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