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    Basic humanitarian challenges remain: Oxfam

    KABUL (PAN): About $57 billion was committed over the past decade in international aid to Afghanistan, but the country still faces the most basic of development and humanitarian challenges, a global charity said on Monday.

    Two million people are at risk of hunger this winter because of a drought earlier in the year, Oxfam said, as the 2nd Bonn Conference on Afghanistan's future direction is set to get under way in Germany.

    Asking the players involved to take a fresh look at Afghanistan and construct a new vision for its future, the group warned the government in Kabul would be left unprepared to face the post-2014 challenges, when all foreign troops are scheduled to leave. .

    It urged the conference to reverse that trend and mark a genuine turning point in the way the international community engaged with Afghanistan during the transition phase and beyond. It also called for progress in the areas of women’s rights, security sector reform and long-term aid.

    "The Afghan army, especially police, are still not ready to properly safeguard civilians, as thousands of police officers have yet to receive training and 80% of police recruits are illiterate. The force routinely does not investigate civilian deaths at its own hands."

    In the first six months of 2011, at least 25 civilians were killed and 159 injured in crowd control incidents, Oxfam said, adding none of the incidents were promptly investigated.

    It noted the Afghan Local Police (ALP) initiative, which involves supporting local militia groups to fight the insurgency, as a serious concern. There are continuing allegations of serious misconduct by ALP members, including robberies, assaults and even murder.

    "One in three Afghans cannot feed themselves adequately each year and this situation has been exacerbated by the recent drought," the organisation said. The continuing problems with hunger and malnutrition -- facing millions of Afghans -- highlighted mismanagement of aid, it said.

    Aid has also been wasted because of corruption, poor governance, poorly designed development projects and a lack of consultation with Afghan communities to understand what their real needs are, according to the report.

    The reported suggested a stronger role for Afghan civil society organisations in monitoring how aid was spent and holding their leaders to account was essential to ensure aid was spent appropriately.

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