06/13/2008, 00.00
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Donors' conference, for Afghans nothing will change

Aid workers and the local press say they are "sceptical" about the results of the Paris conference. Afghanistan is not lacking money, but competent politicians, honest police, housing, and a development programme aimed at genuine growth in the country.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - Afghans continue to see no results from the various donors' conferences that have been held from 2001 until today, "in support" of the country and its reconstruction.  And the main cause of this must be sought above all in the widespread corruption involving all sectors of society.  These are the remarks made to AsiaNews by some humanitarian workers who have been in Kabul for years, commenting on the conclusion of the Paris conference that yesterday collected about 20 billion dollars for Karzai's government.

The aid workers, who ask to remain anonymous, say they are "sceptical" about the practical value of events that are "aimed more at media exposure than at the concrete good of the country".  The local media, like the English-language newspaper Outlook, also expressed perplexity and criticised the state for its bad management of foreign funds, asking "in whose pockets will the latest flood of money end up?".  The money gathered yesterday is proof of the continuing decline of trust in Afghan leaders on the part of much of the international community. Karzai had asked for 50 billion dollars for a five-year plan that would bring Afghanistan roads, power plants, and dams, but also an army and a security system capable of efficient control and defence of the territory.

So far, however, Kabul has shown itself incapable of putting the massive donations to good use: the production of opium has increased, as have the operations of the Taliban.  For its part, the international community bears part of the blame.  It has sent less aid than it promised: since 2001, this was supposed to amount to 25 billion, while in reality only 15 billion has been delivered.  A recent report from the World Bank, moreover, claims that about 70% of spending on development comes back to donor countries in compensation for advisers and experts. 

"Afghanistan has received a great deal of money", the aid workers say, "and in some areas the army is working effectively for reconstruction, and the people are grateful, but in general what is seen in the country is the proliferation of private building projects, with villas, hotels, supermarkets, shops, but for example no plan for residential housing".  The other main problems that remain to be solved are: the production of opium, drug trafficking, police corruption, employment, health, and education.  "All of this", they conclude, "together with the absence of competent politicians capable of elaborating rational development plans and carrying them forward, does not permit great hope at the moment for the future of Afghanistan", which will conduct general elections next year.

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