Donors Pledge $1.24 Billion to Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda Still Active
The United Nations (UN) issued a report yesterday stating that al-Qaeda has set up new training camps in eastern Afghanistan. The UN group that monitors financing links with al-Qaeda stated that new camps have been activated along the Pakistani border, and they called on the international community for stronger and more coordinated efforts to battle al-Qaeda, the BBC reports. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was quick to downplay the report, telling the Associated Press that he was “certain there are no large-scale camps of training of al-Qaeda or terrorists in Afghanistan.” But he acknowledged that there definitely are individuals and small groups who are still active in the country. Yesterday, two US soldiers and their Afghan translator were wounded when a grenade was thrown at their vehicle, AP reports.
Karzai was in Oslo yesterday for a meeting of donor countries at which 23 nations pledged $1.24 billion to Afghanistan for 2003, which could be increased to as much as $2 billion, according to Reuters. The UN had appealed to the donor countries for $815 million, asking them to “invest in the recovery and security of Afghanistan,” according to a UN release. Many view the UN appeal as an underestimate of the needs in Afghanistan. Karzai appealed to the donors for long-term reconstruction aid to help rebuild the country’s roads and infrastructure, AFP reports. Norway’s Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, urged the Afghan government to focus on improving the status of women in the country, saying “the situation for women in Afghanistan is improving but there is still a way to go,” according to AFP. Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday stressing the challenges facing women in post-Taliban Afghanistan; however, Karzai rejected the report’s claim that progress in women’s rights was deteriorating, according to AFP.
Security remains a crucial issue in ensuring the rights and safety of Afghanistan’s women and girls. President Bush recently signed the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which authorizes $2.3 billion in aid to Afghanistan over four years and $1 billion to expand international peacekeeping troops. The Act also includes language by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that makes Afghan women a funding priority, earmarking $15 million each year for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and $5 million each year for the Independent Human Rights Commission. However, the Bush Administration’s 2003 budget forwarded to Congress does not include any funding for Afghan reconstruction or expansion of ISAF. This authorization is a major step in securing the funding necessary for Afghan reconstruction and security. The funds must still be appropriated by Congress when it convenes next year, and the Bush Administration must take action to support the expansion of international peace troops within and beyond Kabul.
2/27/2015 This Bipartisan Bill Will Hold Colleges Accountable for Ending Campus Sexual Assault - A bipartisan bill aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for rape and sexual assault cases was introduced in Congress yesterday, spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Some of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act's key key provisions include a requirement of confidential reporting systems on colleges and universities, minimum training requirements for campus personnel, and stricter penalties for schools found to be in violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. . . .
2/26/2015 If This Bill Passes Federal Law Will Add Consent to Sex Ed Curriculums - Right now, federal law does not require health or sex education to include sexual assault prevention - but that could change with a new bill introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this month, would require all public secondary schools in the country to include teaching "safe relationship behavior" in order to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. . . .