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In Kunduz, security threats force CSOs to scale back operations

In Kunduz, security threats force CSOs to scale back operations

Feb 14, 2016 - 19:23

KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): Fragile security and increasing Talibaninfo-icon activities near Kunduz City, have forced some civil societyinfo-icon organisations (CSOs), especially those working to promote womeninfo-icon’s rights, into leaving the province or limiting their campaign.

Before the fall of Kunduz City to the Taliban last year, there were more than 70 civil society organisations in the province, but the numberhas now slumped to 30 because of growing chaos in the strategic northern province.

Indubitably, civil society could play an important role in resolving problems of people and pushing the government into deliveringbetter services, but insecurity has badly affected operations of such groups.

Taliban captured Kunduz City on Sept. 28, 2015 but after three days security forces launched an operation and recaptured the city in about two weeks.  More than 180 civilians were killed, 330 others wounded and over 20,000 others displaced.

Some government and private offices were set afire and precious equipment looted during the Taliban’s control of the city.Integrated Network of Kunduz Civil Foundation head Abdullah Rasuli said: “SCO role has been shrinking after the plunder of equipment and goods during the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz City.”

Some of the SCOs reorganised their staff after borrowing huge sums of money but the rest could not reactivate their offices, he said, assailing the government to keep its promises of strengthening security. As a consequence, several SCOs have either stopped or scaled back their operations.

“Theprotection of the civil society activists can ensure the resumption of SCO activities, but the government has been unable to bring security and stability to the province,” he reiterated.

The presence of militants is a big challenge for SCOs in Kunduz, where journalists are also being threatened increasingly by the resurgent militants.

Women and Youth Organisation for Peace and Development (WYPADO) Chairperson Marzai Rustami recalled prior to the collapse of the city, civil society had been very active. But after the incident, its activities had run out of steam.

“The collapse of Kunduz City came as a rude shock to us, causing some civil society offices to stop operations,” she said.There is still fear of Taliban among the people and civil society activists.

If the security personnel did not address these concerns, failed to curb Taliban-linked violence or further delayed a decisive clearing offensive, operations of civil society would eventually come to a halt, she warned.

“If the debacle recurs, civil society activists will be insecure, because all documents of activists had been seized by the militants,” she argued.

Mohammad Yousuf Ayubi, head of provincial council, agreed the worsening law and order situation had been taking a toll on women’s social activities. “Most of women have announced their disassociation with civil society and fled to other areas.”

According to Ayubi, before the fall of Kunduz city, civil society activities were on the rise. “But now they are declining, just like the public interest in their operations.”

Syed Yasin Raheel, a resident of Kunduz City, said earlier civil society activists served the people very efficiently. But some elements, having connections in different organisation, got huge funds from donors, he remarked.

He opined civil society did a good job in organising training courses, workshops, public awareness programmes and keeping a watch on government performance.

But some security officials blamed civil society groups for their inactive role in preventing the collapse of Kunduz City. Deputy police chief Col. Masum Safi claimed activities of civil society had been ineffective.

If the activistshad helped security forces honestly, he said, the province would have been more peaceful. He stressed the need for coordination between civil society activists and security agencies. If civil society had shared their concerns with police in time, the provincial capital might not have fallen to the Taliban, he believed.

Safi acknowledged security was not good in Kunduz, but still better than Kabulinfo-icon. He said police had devised effective strategies for better security and things would start improvingin the near future.

Civil society activists, in response, said they had lost beliefin the oft-touted commitments of local security officials and were unsure about the protection of their lives in the province.

They complained no strategy had been adopted by the government for the safety of civil society activists. The situation was deteriorating day by day, with no hope of improvement in sight, they concluded.


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