According to a series of classified reports from NATO and the UN recently published by this site, the recent elections in Afghanistan were marred by “unprecedented” levels of violence including voter intimidation, kidnapping of election workers and candidates, as well as attacks on polling stations and ballot distribution systems. A confidential United Nations “Joint Security Analysis” covering the week of the elections states that the country experienced a “massive increase” in violence “due to an unprecedented peak of security incidents recorded on Election Day 18 September.” In fact, there was such a significant and “unprecedented” increase in violence leading up to the elections that this created a significant decrease in subsequent attacks because insurgent forces were literally running out of ammunition.
Confidential United Nations Department of Safety and Security Afghanistan Elections Daily Situation Reports from September 16-17 2010.
United Nations Afghanistan Security Incident graphs spanning from 2003-September 2010.
Eleven confidential reports from the United Nations Department of Safety and Security regarding operations in Afghanistan from August 6 to October 21, 2010.
UN Afghanistan Assassination Distribution Maps January-July 2010.
Stability in Afghanistan – where it exists – is terribly fragile. Security is a daily concern for Afghan people, and even those living in more secure areas of the country face a fluid and volatile security situation that sees rapid changes, often for the worse. Central government control is tenuous, especially in rural areas and parts of the country that are the scene of conflict with insurgents. Access to even the most basic of government services – health, education, electricity – is tenuous at best and often unavailable. Complicating matter exponentially is the extreme poverty of Afghanistan – a country struggling with some of the most daunting statistics in the world for literacy, maternal mortality, food security, and life expectancy. In this context, simply to survive from one day to the next is a terrible challenge for many people.
The magnitude and importance of Afghanistan’s opium economy are virtually unprecedented and unique in global experience —it has been roughly estimated as equivalent to 36% of licit (i.e. non-drug) GDP in 2004/05, or if drugs are also included in the denominator, 27% of total drug-inclusive GDP (see Chapter 2). The sheer size and illicit nature of the opium economy mean that not surprisingly, it infiltrates and seriously affects Afghanistan’s economy, state, society, and politics. It generates large amounts of effective demand in the economy, provides incomes and employment including in rural areas (even though most of the final “value” from Afghan opium accrues outside the country), and supports the balance of payments and indirectly (through Customs duties on drug-financed imports) government revenues. The opium economy by all accounts is a massive source of corruption and undermines public institutions especially in (but not limited to) the security and justice sectors. There are worrying signs of infiltration by the drug industry into higher levels of government and into the emergent politics of the country. Thus it is widely considered to be one of the greatest threats to state-building, reconstruction, and development in Afghanistan.
Over the course of July and early August 2010, Pakistan experienced the worst monsoon-related floods in living memory. Heavy rainfall, flash floods and riverine floods have devastated large parts of Pakistan since the arrival of seasonal monsoon rains on 22 July. Assessments of losses and damages are ongoing, but estimates place the number of affected people at more than 14 million. Over 1,200 people have died, and at least 288,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, intense rains during the last week of July and in early August were compounded by the swelling of major rivers due to rainwater surging down from the highland areas. The Pakistan Meteorological Department reports that within one week in late July, KPK received 9,000 millimetres of rainfall – ten times as much as the province normally receives in the course of an entire year. Baluchistan, Pakistan-Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, also experienced extreme weather, resulting in widespread losses and damages.
The human cost of the armed conflict in Afghanistan is escalating in 2010. In the first six months of the year civilian casualties – including deaths and injuries of civilians – increased by 31 per cent over the same period in 2009. Three quarters of all civilian casualties were linked to Anti-Government Elements (AGEs), an increase of 53 per cent from 2009. At the same time, civilian casualties attributed to Pro-Government Forces (PGF) decreased by 30 per cent compared to the first half of 2009.
The majority of the 20 Afghan provinces that were poppy-free in 2009 will remain so this year. Yet, three provinces (Baghlan, Faryab and Sari Pul, all in the north) risk showing the beginning of a trend reversal, with a minimal increase in cultivation in the districts with higher insecurity. Five other provinces (Kunar, Nangarhar, Kabul, Laghman and Badakhshan), not poppy-free so far, are also expected to have negligible amounts of poppies.
UN/USAID Damage Assessment and Field Medical Locations in Port Au Prince, Haiti as of January 26, 2010.
The Parties underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and commit to a vigorous response through immediate ambitious national action and strengthened international cooperation with a view to limit global average temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The Parties are convinced of the need to address climate change bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities in developing countries. The Parties note that the largest share of historical global emissions of greenhouse gases originates in developed countries, and that per capita emissions in many developing countries are still relatively low. The Parties recognize the urgency of addressing the need for enhanced action on adaptation to climate change.
17. [[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]
(a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs’ economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;
(b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response