What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An explosive country

I found myself pointing out a piece of data quite a lot recently, in conversations with people who don't happen to follow events in Afghanistan or normally don't care about them at all, minding, legitimately of course, their perfectly unrelated business rather. Having done this, I now realise that sometimes the most simple things might need to be pointed out for emphasis, and that the most simple pieces of data can produce the most notable contrast.
So here it is, this is what I've mentioned surprisingly often in the latter weeks (surprising myself as well).
According to the most common estimates some 8000 people have died in the different manifestations of armed conflict in Afghanistan last year. That 8000 toll is made up of estimates including numbers-wise rather unreliable single reports - it's not 8000 as such. Around and about, rather. Could be more, could be less. Meanwhile, "Afghan mines killed more than 600 in ‘07 (AP):"
"Land mines and other explosive devices killed more than 600 people last year in Afghanistan, one of the most mined countries in the world, the United Nations said Friday.
De-miners have cleared more than 1 billion square yards of land across the country but 2,300 communities are still affected by known minefields, the U.N. Mine Action Program in Afghanistan said.
“Afghanistan is still one of the most heavily mined countries in the world,” said Haider Reza, head of the program.
“Mines and explosives killed over 600 Afghans last year. That is an average of 50 people every month. This figure is too high and we must all continue to work together to ensure that we reduce the number of people killed, injured and maimed by land mines in Afghanistan,” he said.
Half of the victims were under 18 years old, the group said in a statement.
More than 350,000 anti-personnel mines, 19,000 anti-tank mines and millions of other explosive items have been destroyed, but there are still too many mine victims, Reza said.
The U.N. Mine Action Program in Afghanistan has provided mine-risk education to 17 million Afghans over the past 18 years, it said."
That, in a country where IEDs killed the majority of the altogether 740 coalition soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan so far, since 2001 (740 is the number of casualties as of May 10, 2008).
This might lead one in all sorts of directions. Tell me what your thoughts are, if you wish. My first thought was that there is a lot to be done in Afghanistan besides counterinsurgency. Countries that claim to have moved beyond the part of history including wars and stuff could offer more assistance to building peace and stuff.
Paris donor conference coming up, can't help, I'm already focusing on that. Will see naively voluntaristic messages akin to this one posted down the road leading up to that.

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