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Afghanistan war costs Britain over £37b

Afghanistan war costs Britain over £37b

May 31, 2013 - 09:59

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Britain has so far spent £37 billion on the conflict in Afghanistaninfo-icon, with each taxpaying household likely to pay more than £2,000 to fund the increasingly bloody campaign, reveals a new book.

The book's authored Frank Ledwidge told the Guardian newspaper since 2006, on a conservative estimate, the UK had paid a cost £15m a day to maintain its military presence in southern Helmand province.

The writer of Investment in Blood estimates a sum of £25,000 will have been spent for every one of Helmand's 1.5 million inhabitants, more than most of them will earn in a lifetime.

"By 2020, Britain will have spent at least £40bn on its Afghan campaign, enough to recruit over 5,000 police officers or nurses and pay for them throughout their careers. It could fund free tuition for all students in British higher educationinfo-icon for 10 years."

Ledwidge, whose book is due to be published next week by Yale University Press, called the campaign in Afghanistan  Britain's last imperial war. British troops in Helmand had killed at least 500 non-combatants.

Having officially acknowledged about half of the deaths, Britain had compensated the victims' families, the Guardian quoted the author as saying. The rest of fatalities are based on estimates from UN and NGO reports, and "collateral damage" from air strikes and gun battles.

Included in the war spending is the human and financial cost of long-term care for more than 2,600 British troops injured in the conflict and for more than 5,000 people "psychologically injured".

On the other hand, the Ministry of Defence has put at about £25 billion the cost so far of military operations in Afghanistan. Defence officials insist British troops are in Helmand to protect national security by helping Afghans build up their own security forces.

For his part, Ledwidge believed Helmand was no more stable now than when thousands of British troops were sent there in 2006. He argued opium production, which slumped under Talibaninfo-icon's rule, was increasing, fuelling corruption and filling the coffers of warlords.

PAN Monitor/mud


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