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Analysis: Conflict leads to Afghan displacement, but which side most to blame?

Posted by The Agonist on April 21st, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Kabul | April 21

Reuters/IRIN – One irony of the current security situation in Afghanistan is that foreign forces, whose ostensible aim is to protect civilians while fighting the Taliban, may be responsible – directly or indirectly – for the bulk of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country, whose number is rising.

About 400 individuals were displaced each day in 2006-2010 – 730,000 in total – mostly due to military operations by US/NATO forces, according to the Oslo-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), an affiliate of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The so-called “surge” in US/NATO troops and increased counterinsurgency operations in 2010 resulted in the displacement of about 85,000 people in the volatile south of the country alone. About 10,000 were also displaced by anti-insurgent offensives in the north, IDMC said.

“The US and ISAF [NATO-led International Security Assistance Force] currently lack an understanding of internal displacement in the context of their operations,” Jacob Rothing, an IDMC country analyst, told IRIN, adding that their own standard operating procedures to minimize civilian displacement were not developed and used by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, local militias hired by the government and its US/NATO allies for counterinsurgency purposes, were extorting communities and grabbing land, resulting in further internal displacements, Rothing alleged.

ISAF said it could not “agree or disagree” with the allegation that forces under its command were responsible for most of the civilian displacements in Afghanistan.

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