Pre-emptive aid strike

From air strikes to aid strikes, my, the US military keeps itself busy.

KABUL, 16 June 2009 (IRIN) – The US military has stepped in with humanitarian aid supplies in a bid to outflank a brewing conflict over grazing land between Afghan Kuchi nomads and ethnic Hazaras in a district in Wardak Province, some 30km from Kabul.

According to a statement by the US military, representatives of 15-20 Kuchi families agreed not to encroach on pasture land in Daimirdad District after receiving sacks of beans, sugar, flour, rice and tins of cooking oil, and the promise of more aid in future.

“Three weeks ago, we went to Daymardad [Daimirdad] and it was a very positive step for us. The Kuchi elders said they would not migrate [to the area] if they were given food, water and vaccination supplies for their animals,” Joe Asher, a US military officer, was quoted in a statement as saying.

The statement said tents, water and veterinary supplies would be distributed in future so that Kuchis do not need to enter the contested area.

“We hope this demonstrates that we’re saying `hey, we’re taking the steps to alleviate your problems,'” said the 12 June statement.

“The Kuchis won’t have to move their livestock, because they will have what they need,” the statement added.

Over the past few years, disputes over access to public pasture land between Kuchis, who are Pashtun nomads, and ethnic Hazaras, who live in central parts of the country, have often led to armed clashes.

I’m blown away by that and at a loss for suitably disparaging and despairing words. The IRIN report goes on to explain why well enough for me to leave it there.

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2 Responses to “Pre-emptive aid strike”

  1. Roberta Says:

    The New Yorker cartoon says it better than I can:
    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/issuecartoons/2009/06/22/cartoons_20090615

  2. Joel Hafvenstein Says:

    Heh. If aid agencies refuse to ladle out the flour and cooking oil to keep the nomads in one place, presumably someone’s got to.

    One thing the IRIN article didn’t touch that I thought was a little curious: where are the Kuchis planning to graze their animals, then? I’d have thought that the main reason they went up to Daimirdad in the first place was that they didn’t have access to other, less controversial grazing land. So why aren’t they demanding a few dozen tonnes of fodder? Are they going to feed their sheep rice and beans? The military’s promised to dole out “water, tents, and veterinary supplies” — I suppose goats can get a tent down all right, but still, it feels like a significant oversight.

    Unless the Kuchis were only heading up to Daimirdad to provoke a fight, and didn’t really need the pasture land to feed their animals, seems to me that this can only end in (1) the Kuchis taking the food aid and heading up anyway, (2) belated addition of a lot of fodder to the aid package, or (3) a big barbeque and the collapse of these families’ livelihoods. Or am I missing something?

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