Monday, May 28, 2007

CIDA 'Undermines' Military Success in Afghanistan

That's the conclusion reached by the Senlis Council.

Via the CBC:

Canada's lead agency for international assistance in developing countries is not up to the job of delivering aid to Afghanistan and should be relieved of that responsibility, a think tank said Monday.

"The extremely limited results achieved by Canada’s International Development Agency in Kandahar to date demonstrate the incapacity of the agency to operate effectively in a war zone," according to a report by the Senlis Council.

The international think-tank, with offices in several countries, including Canada, researches and recommends foreign policy and policy on security, development and counter-narcotics strategies.

CIDA's "limited achievements" are undermining Canadian military efforts and compromising the likelihood of mission success, the report says.

Kandahar’s refugee camps are growing steadily and its hospital is dilapidated and filthy, the report states.

As well, there is no functioning food aid distribution system, and legal money-making opportunities remain extremely limited, according to the report.

Extremely serious concerns and allegations:

"The failure to demonstrably address the extreme poverty, widespread hunger and appalling child and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan — let alone boost economic development — is decreasing local Afghan support for Canada’s mission and increasing support for the insurgency."

Norine MacDonald, of the Senlis Council, said the problem is a structural issue because the money the agency does have is not ending up on the ground.

I wonder how minister Josee Verner - always one to try and show just how stunningly well CIDA is doing in Afghanistan - is going to respond to this report by this well-respected think tank. Obviously, throwing money at the problems doesn't seem to be working. Nice talking points don't equal success. Neither do shallow photo ops. Verner owes all Canadians and Afghans a damn good explanation for what her department has failed to do and most especially she needs to respond to the very serious allegation that CIDA is actually undermining the military's work there. If she's anything like Harper and O'Connor though, she'll just dismiss the think tank's report as they did last year while pretending she actually knows what's happening in Afghanistan and how to fix it.

Related: Senlis web site

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