Afghan peace hurt by West's failed aid pledges
( Reuter )- Peace in Afghanistan is undermined by Western nations' failure to deliver promised aid and 40 percent of funds that do reach the country return to the West in profits and salaries, aid agencies said on Tuesday.
Afghanistan relies on international aid for 90 percent of its spending as it tries to rebuild state institutions shattered by nearly 30 years of war and at the same time fight off a renewed Taliban insurgency that killed 6,000 people last year.
Foreign spending on aid and development is dwarfed by that spent on international military operations in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military alone now spends some $100 million a day fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, but spending on aid by all donors since 2001 amounts to only $7 million a day.
"Given the links between development and security, the effectiveness of aid also has a major impact on peace and stability," the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) said in a report.
"Yet thus far aid has been insufficient and in many cases wasteful and ineffective," said ACBAR, an umbrella group for non-governmental organizations working in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan received just $57 per capita in aid in the two years after international intervention, compared to $679 a head in Bosnia and $233 in East Timor, it said.
The international community has pledged to spend some $25 billion on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan.
But, the report said, "just $15 billion in aid has so far been spent, of which it is estimated a staggering 40 percent has returned to donor countries in corporate profits and salaries."
While there are problems delivering development to Afghanistan due to poor security, government corruption and the ability of the country to absorb aid, major donors have fallen far behind on their pledges, ACBAR said.
The United States, by far the biggest donor, has paid out only half of the $10 billion it committed in aid to Afghanistan for the period 2002-2008, the Asia Development Bank and India only a third of their pledged assistance for the same period.
Two-thirds of international assistance to Afghanistan bypasses the Afghan government, undermining the rebuilding of its state institutions, the report said. International donors also do not coordinate well among themselves and with the Afghan government on where their money goes.
"The Afghan government says it does not have information on how one-third of all assistance since 2001 was spent -- some $5 billion," the report said.
ACBAR called on donors to increase spending on development and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, fulfill their pledges of aid, coordinate spending more effectively and channel more funds through the Afghan government.