Despite pledges of $4.5 billion in emergency assistance and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan, the international community has only released about $660 million so far. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged to speed up disbursement of the promised funds. The United States has delivered around $400 million in emergency assistance to the struggling nation, but with most of it for humanitarian assistance through the UN and other nongovernmental organization – and very little to assist the Afghan government with reconstruction. The cost of reconstruction of Afghanistan is estimated at $14-18 billion over the next decade.
The newly formed Afghan government, under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, is currently trying to rebuild the country as well as bring an end to the violence and corruption of warlords that the US counted as allies in their war against Al Qaeda. The assassination of vice president Haji Abdul Qadir in full daylight in Kabul earlier this month; threats to Loya Jirga delegates who spoke out for human rights; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school in Kandahar show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.
“You’re not going to get economic development if roads aren’t secured, if there’s banditry and lawlessness, if warlords are running everything, if it’s corrupt and if you’ve got to pay them off,” stressed Roberta Cohen, a specialist in humanitarian issues at the Brookings Institution, in the LA Times. Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, told the New York Times that in order to keep stability in Afghanistan, “Washington will have to help Karzai, and the only help that counts in Afghanistan is troops.”
Currently, there are only 4,500 peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan who are all stationed within the capital city Kabul. The US has rejected Karzai’s requests for more troops outside of Kabul. The Feminist Majority, the United Nations and other humanitarian aid organizations have joined the Afghan government in repeated pleas to President Bush to expand the peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .