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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Afghanistan: Agencies concerned for the future
A senior aid worker in Afghanistan has warned that the country could descend into lawlessness and violence unless the West delivers on its promises of aid to the region.



What we fear is a return to a spiral of violence

Paul Barker
In an interview for BBC HARDtalk, Paul Barker, director of CARE in Afghanistan, said: "What we fear is a return to a spiral of violence.

"We certainly saw that in 1992 when the government collapsed and the country disintegrated into factional fighting...it's a nightmare scenario that nobody wants to see reoccur."

Investment

On Thursday US President George Bush, set out his case for military action against Iraq in a speech at the UN.

Mr Bush said that military action would be inevitable if Iraq failed to comply with UN resolutions on weapons inspections.


We can't get diverted by the next international crisis that happens to come along.

Paul Barker
But Mr Barker is worried that any military campaign against Iraq, could see the long term commitment to the rebuilding Afghanistan being forgotten.

He said: "We can't get diverted by the next international crisis that happens to come along. This is something that requires commitment beyond the next international crisis.

"It's something we're anxious about as we see delays in pledges coming through and as we hear talk of a war possibly in Iraq which we fear divert tremendous resources from urgently needed work in Afghanistan."

Pledges

After US-led forces ousted the Taleban, at the end of 2001, leaders from power foreign donors promised to pay an aid package worth $4.5bn over five years.

However Mr Barker said that the money is no longer enough to keep up with the increasing demands.

Refugees in northern Afghanistan
Afghans refugees face a difficult future
He said: "The return rate of refugees to Afghanistan and internally displaced people to their places of origin is about twice what it was anticipated last January when pledges were made.

"A lot suffering will happen if we can't keep up the humanitarian requirements of the country."

Last month US President George Bush vetoed an additional $174 million in aid for rebuilding and refugees.

Mr Barker said that the decision was a "terrible blow" which could have a devastating impact on a number of projects in the region.

"We have an urgently needed water project in Kabul that supplies clean drinking water to 400,000 people here. US government funding for that currently runs out at the end of September... it would be catastrophic if that project is forced to stop."

Optimistic

Mr Barker, who has worked in Afghanistan for over 25 years, said that despite the difficulties, he remained positive about the future of the country.


It's a partnership between aid agencies and the government

Paul Barker
He said: "We're in this together, it's a partnership between aid agencies and the government and we really do have to see this as a shared problem and we have to work together on shared solutions.

"Twenty-three years of destruction will take a long sustained effort to rebuild. Twenty-three years of bad habits and in fighting, it will take a long time to build a new culture."

The interview can be watched in full on Thursday 12 September on BBC World and BBC News 24 at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in BST) 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT) 0330, repeated 0830, 1130, 1530, 1830, 2330



HARDtalk with Tim Sebastian is broadcast Mon - Friday on BBC World and BBC News 24
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