Afghans think security situation is worse than four years ago

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The Independent Online

The Afghan population feels increasingly threatened in a society they see as slipping backwards, racked by rising violence and endemic corruption, according to a report produced by leading human rights groups and aid organisations.

The study, to be published today, "traces a disintegration in the security situation in Afghanistan over the past four years, as perceived by ordinary citizens and confirmed by most available information". It warns that "Afghan forbearance is not infinite, and the Afghan government and its international allies must now take serious note of the unambiguous message emerging from public opinion".

The report, called Fight Poverty to End Insecurity: Afghan Perceptions of Insecurity, from the Afghan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC), says the United Nations, which will renew the mandate for international forces in the country next weekend, must rethink its approach.

It comes as another opinion poll, by the newspaper USA Today and Gallup found that 42 per cent of Americans now feel it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan. The figure is up from 30 per cent last year and establishes a new high in public dissatisfaction. Just 38 per cent of Americans say things are going well for the US in the conflict, down from 44 per cent in January and is the lowest Gallup has found since it first asked this question in September 2006.

The reports from the US and the human rights and aid groups come as President Barack Obama is in the process of sending up to 30,000 extra forces to Afghanistan in preparation for a military "surge".

Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated yesterday that another 4,000 troops needed to be sent by America's European partners for the Afghan national elections in August. However, with other countries reluctant to commit additional forces, most of the reinforcements, between 2,500 to 3,000, are expected to come from Britain.

Violence is at its highest level in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001. Around 5,000 people, including more than 2,000 civilians, were killed in fighting last year, the UN has estimated. A poll conducted in the HRRAC report shows that 63 per cent of people believe the security situation has worsened in the last four years. Around 56 per cent said the Taliban were now much more active in their areas, with 60 per cent expressing deep concern over the rising number of suicide attacks.

63%

Of Afghans believe security has worsened in the past four years.

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