Earlier this week, the French and German-led military unit, Eurocorps, took command of NATO peacekeeping forces (ISAF) in Kabul. The transition occurred two months before Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban elections are scheduled to take place. In June, NATO stated that it would increase the size of peacekeeping troops from 6,500 to 10,000 for the elections. It is as yet unclear when the extra troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, according to BBC News. NATO has also said that 40 percent of the force will not actually be deployed, but instead will be based either outside of the country or in barracks in Kabul rather than in the provinces where there is the greatest threat of insecurity.
With limited deployment of peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan, the Taliban and other extremists have become more active. The Taliban have threatened, kidnapped, and killed women’s rights activists and aid workers as a way to derail the first post-Taliban elections scheduled to take place in October. Over the past year, more than 30 aid workers have been murdered. Even with new commitments to ISAF expansion, concerns remain over whether the expansion will be large enough, and also whether the troop size in Kabul will be reduced, a move that many experts say would destabilize the already fragile Afghan central government.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is leading the call for a significant increase in the number of peacekeepers throughout Afghanistan to provide security and stability. Without adequate resources and security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights, and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.
TAKE ACTION Urge the Bush Administration to immediately expand the international peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan to ensure free elections and a transition to a safe and democratic country.