Sunday, April 05, 2009

Afghan War Is Bad for Women and Children

Dear President Obama,

I’m writing you to stop the escalation of United States military forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This escalation will be a disaster most of all for the women and children of Afghanistan. What I’d like to address is how the increase in military spending would increase the already present disaster for the Afghan women and children. Your advisers are using as one rationale for this war is United States is helping Afghan women. Your advisers are ignorant. After seven years of United States ousting the Taliban and occupying Afghanistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund and Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan reports that the country “is second only to Sierra Leone in terms of having the world’s worst maternal and infant mortality rates. Many young mothers and children die of malnutrition-related diseases ….”

According to News Archive of Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), reprint of a March 17, 2009, report a woman in Herat, Afghanistan, tried to kill herself by burning herself and burned 80% of her body, but survived. According to a RAWA news archive March 27 report many Afghan women try to kill themselves: at the “ Ibn-e Sina Emergency Hospital in Kabul more than 600 incidents of suicide attempts have been referred to this hospital during the past 12 months.“ Dr. Abdullah Fahim, spokesman for the Ministry, added, ”Famliy violence, poverty, mental ailment and weak religious beliefs provoke self-murder in Afghanistan .” Islam forbids suicide. After seven years of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, Afghan women are increasingly trying to kill themselves to escape their devastating circumstances. Afghan women suffer from malnutrition, high food prices, drought, lack of electricity, lack of safe water, lack of jobs, domestic violence, rape, and insecurity.

According to March 31, 2009, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRNI), a news service which is part of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 550,000 Afghan women and children are malnourished and need food aid: “Some 24 percent of lactating women are malnourished, over 19 percent of pregnant women have a poor nutritional status …and about 54 percent of under-five children are stunted, according to a joint survey by UN agencies and the government.” Last July, 2008, a food appeal was made asking for $404 million from international food donors to help the malnourished women and children and 70% of the amount was donated. By March, 2009, the donated food still has not reached the hungry women and children and is scheduled to reach the hungry in May, 2009. The hungry women and children got through the difficult winter without any aid. Oxfam says March 29, 2009, over a ½ million pregnant and lactating women and ½ million children are still starving.

April 3, 2009, INRI reported eleven international non-government organizations in Afghanistan made a report to NATO: ”Much of the international aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years has been spent to achieve military and political objectives ….” OXFAM, one of the NGOs commented, “The agencies recommend a phase-out of militarised aid and a substantial increase in development and humanitarian funding for civilian institutions and organisations,…” In plain words seven years of United States dominating Afghanistan has laid to military aid but leaving the country’s women and children in devastated economic circumstances. For seven years the United States has not helped women and children.

On Democracy Now, a reporter in Afghanistan interviewed Afghans who do not want any U.S. or NATO military escalation. Instead they want economic aid, not more military violence:

Increasing military aid to Afghan will only increase the suffering of Afghan women and children. So President do not send 17,000 more troops. Do not spend over $1 billion for hardened bases in Afghanistan (the annual budget of the Afghanistan government). Do not send in thousands of private security contractors.Instead spend $1 billion on non-military aid to help the Afghan people. As many have suggested, have a peace conference will all the forces within Afghanistan. A leading Taliban commander said after 30 years of war many Taliban are war-weary. Instead have a regional conference of neighboring states and make peace.

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