Media Press Releases
5 December 2007
Manley Panel urged to recommend Canada call for Emergency NATO meeting
Withdrawal of NATO troops from Southern Afghanistan could lead to abandonment of Afghan people – a repeat of Rwanda, Srebrenica
ICOS on Monday testified to the Senate Standing Select Committee on National Security and Defence, and released its recommendations ahead of its testimony to the Manley Panel on Saturday. ICOS reiterated its call that NATO- ISAF troop numbers be doubled to 80,000, and stressed the need for these troops to operate alongside the Pakistani military inside Pakistan territory, to combat the rapidly expanding Taliban insurgency and thwart their logistical and recruiting operations in Pakistan.
“The Taliban and Al Qaeda have established firm roots across the border in Pakistan,” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS. “Failure to quell this growing threat would strengthen extremism in the region, giving the Taliban and Al Qaeda a geo-political base once again.”
No withdrawal from Kandahar
ICOS warned against a Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan, citing Rwanda and Srebrenica as examples of when the international community’s abandonment of impoverished populations resulted in catastrophe for the most vulnerable sectors of society. In particular, ICOS warned Canada not to abandon Afghanistan’s women and those who have supported the Karzai government and the NATO-ISAF presence. Instead, Canada should establish clear objectives and corresponding measures of success for its humanitarian, stabilisation and reconstruction work in Kandahar.
“Withdrawal from Afghanistan based on a specific calendar date is not an option, Canada must stay until there is peace and prosperity in Kandahar.” said MacDonald. “You only have to look at what happened when UN Peacekeeping forces left Rwanda and when NATO pulled out of Srebrenica. Leaving the Afghan people in the south under the control of Taliban/Al Qaeda would be a tragedy for both Afghanistan and Canada.
“Canada has to take leadership on the international stage. Prime Minister Harper must exert a leadership role within NATO to increase both military involvement of other NATO countries in Southern Afghanistan, and humanitarian aid and development efforts.”
Military to deliver Aid & Security Action Plan
In its recommendations to the Manley Panel, ICOS urged Canada to develop an Aid & Security Action Plan (“ASAP”) for Kandahar, focusing on targeted humanitarian aid and enhanced medical treatment through mobile field hospitals. In particular, the Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar City should be rebuilt and refurbished, and medical training programmes implemented, the Council said.
“Food aid and medical aid would directly improve the relationships with the Afghan people in Kandahar, which would immediately benefit Canada’s security mission in the province,” said MacDonald.
Part of the Action Plan would see the Canadian military secure the delivery of Canada-funded food aid and other supplies to the people of Kandahar.
“The humanitarian situation in Kandahar is increasingly desperate, with no visible signs of food aid being delivered in the deeply impoverished rural communities,” she added. “As long as local and international aid organisations are unable to ensure the delivery of food and medical aid, the Canadian military should be empowered to deliver aid to stricken areas in southern Afghanistan.”
New counter-narcotics initiative launched
ICOS also launched a new counter-narcotics initiative to complement its Poppy for Medicine proposal, which was officially endorsed by The European Parliament in October. The Poppy for Medicine proposal supports Afghan poppy farmers being licensed to grow opium poppies for the medicine morphine rather than for the illegal heroin market. Similar to the production of morphine in the Council’s Poppy for Medicine initiative, Afghanistan’s agronomic conditions could also be used to produce the medicinal ingredient Artemisinin, used in new and highly effective anti-malarial medicines. There is a world wide shortage in developing countries of both morphine and these next generation malaria medicines.
“Using the Poppy for Medicine project model to also cultivate Artemisinia as a cash crop would greatly benefit Afghan farming communities by increasing the incomes of those farmers not contracted to cultivate Poppy for Medicine in any one year,” said MacDonald. “Not only would the extraction of Artemisinin help diversify the economy of Afghanistan’s rural communities, and reinforce a new pharmaceutical industry for Afghanistan, it would go a long way towards addressing the 500 million cases of clinical malaria each year around the world.”