Humanitarian Agenda 2015 : Afghanistan Country Study

The four themes of the HA 2015 research come together in Afghanistan with clear-cut relevance. The externality of the aid enterprise and the baggage that comes with it—values, lifestyle, attitude, and behavior of aid workers—challenge the purported universality of humanitarian action. The context of terrorism and counter-terrorism is at the heart of the international community’s involvement in Afghanistan: the initial objective of the US-led coalition was to smash Al Qaeda and the Taliban, not to engage in nation-building. The coherence agenda, exemplified both by the integration of humanitarian and human rights concerns within the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and by the pressures on NGOs to be part of the Coalition’s “combat team,” colors the operating environment of the aid community. And the heavy toll inflicted by insurgents and criminal elements on the security of aid workers, both Afghan and international, cuts across the three other themes and deeply affects staff morale and ability to address critical humanitarian need.