From: Riz Khan

Aid under fire

How can aid workers fulfill their humanitarian mission when they themselves are perceived as legitimate targets?

The Obama administration’s counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan has incorporated development initiatives and humanitarian aid to nurture complicity with ordinary Afghans, dilute support for the Taliban and ostensibly to lay the ground work for a stabilised country after eventual US troop withdrawal.

Some argue that the once clear distinction between armies and humanitarians has merged, inciting hostility from those who see aid agencies as a mere extension of the military offensive – making aid workers targets for the Taliban, and prompting questions about the politicisation of aid operations.


Send us your views and get your voice on the air

Others say without security, aid agencies cannot serve the innocent victims of the conflict on the ground.

These concerns were put in sharp relief in the past few weeks when Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, announced he intended to cancel western security services used by some aid agencies for protection and to hand over duties and funds to local Afghan police.

In response, aid agencies, concerned about endemic corruption, have said they may withdraw from Afghanistan, and with them huge amounts of funding.

On Wednesday’s Riz Khan we ask: How can humanitarian aid workers work safely on the ground without being co-opted by the US military agenda?

Riz speaks to Michiel Hofman, the MSF representative in Afghanistan and Philip Seib, the director of the Public Diplomacy Institute at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communications.

This episode of Riz Khan aired from Wednesday, November 10, 2010.