Douglas Alexander: Afghanistan remains a desperately poor and unjust country

Share
Related Topics

Both of our governments understand that the desperation described by Secretary [Hillary] Clinton cannot solely be answered by military action or even political processes. It can, however, be answered by a comprehensive approach embracing development. For development can address the pent-up grievances, unrelenting poverty and lack of opportunity that contributes to people resorting to violence. And it is clear that today such desperation still remains widespread in Afghanistan.

For while our headlines and broadcasts inevitably and appropriately focus upon our armed forces' engagement in the country, it is often forgotten that Afghanistan remains a desperately poor and unjust country. A legacy of poverty, civil war and warlordism coupled with the current Taliban and al-Qa'ida insurgency means over half of Afghans live below the poverty line, 40 per cent remain unemployed, and violent incidents have risen by 60 per cent in Helmand this year alone. Indeed, to give just one example from Helmand, only two or three criminal cases are handled by the court in Gereshk each month.

It is little wonder therefore, that on Monday, when I met teachers in Musa Qala and farmers in Lashkar Gar, they all made the same single plea – for security. For so great is the fear and the threat of violence that security and justice matter as much, if not more, than the provision of other basic services in the eyes of many ordinary Afghans.

This prioritisation of security, however, is not unique to Afghanistan. Indeed such views underpinned the World Bank's 2000 Voices of the Poor report, which captured the views of 60,000 poor people across the globe, and highlighted that safety, security and access to justice are among their top concerns, and highlighted the full detrimental impact that their absence has on the lives of the poor.

This is why in my department's newly published White Paper we place such a strong emphasis on getting the building blocks of security in place first in all fragile countries. And in the distinctive circumstances of Afghanistan, working to address the insecurity and impoverishment of the population is vital to our shared counter-insurgency efforts.

This is part of a speech by the Secretary of State for International Development to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington on Thursday

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?