Amidst continued fighting between warring factions in western Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday underscored his nation’s struggle to achieve self-sufficiency and broader security, appealing for increased international assistance to strengthen security throughout the country. Karzai’s statements were made at a one-day conference in Bonn, just one year after the signing of the historic Bonn Agreement, which laid the groundwork for a return to democracy in Afghanistan. Karzai told international delegates, including representatives from the US, Russia, China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, that his administration planned to establish a small national army and law enforcement to help boost security beyond the capital of Kabul, according to CNN.com. The BBC reported that additional topics of discussion at the meeting included improving national stability and security, drafting a constitution for the 2004 elections, combating the illegal drug trade, investigating human rights abuses, and assisting refugees.
Since the Taliban’s fall from power last year, two million refuges have re-entered the country. Late last week, conflicts erupted between ethnic Pashtuns under Amanullah Khan and Tajiks led by Ismail Khan near the western city of Shindand. After coming under fire outside the local air base, US Special Forces retaliated Sunday, dispatching a B-52 along with seven “smart bombs” over the afflicted region. There were no causalities from the US fire, according to Salon.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) released a comprehensive report Monday finding Afghanistan’s medical services to be severely lacking contributing to the country’s high maternal mortality rates. Over half of the nation’s hospitals and health centers lack access to clean water. Fewer than 25 percent possess vehicles to transport patients and less than 10 percent have the capability to perform Caesarean births. In some regions, the medical facility is so over burdened, it services populations as high as 273,000 people.
As the largest donor to Afghanistan, the EU has given nearly US$517 million of the US$825 million pledged this year, according to the Associated Press.