At a two-day conference this week in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told international donors his country’s reconstruction may now cost as much as US$15 billion to US$20 billion, according to new estimates. Citing agricultural devastation, decrepit infrastructure, and widespread fighting throughout the region, Karzai told attendees, “The needs of Afghanistan as we know it today are much greater than what was estimated for us in the Tokyo conference,” reported the Associated Press. UN envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi agreed, adding, ”Security must improve this year. Failing this, the recovery and reconstruction process…risks being undermined.” To date, international donors have given US$2 billion of US$4.5 billion promised over five years.
Amnesty International (AI) released a report yesterday urging overhaul of the country’s police force. Citing documented instances of police brutality, arbitrary arrest and bribery, AI reported a critical need for police supplies and equipment as well as “in service” training. Germany has assisted with policing training, but only for the academy in Kabul, according to the New York Times.
With winter in Afghanistan coming to an end, hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are returning home from Pakistan, according the UN High Commissioner for Refugees earlier this week. The agency expects roughly 600,000 refugees to return this year, down from 1.5 million last. However, the outlook in Afghanistan remains bleak. According to the Times, student enrollment at madrasas, or Islamic religious schools, are anticipating growth, recruiting children refugees—many of whom have resorted to collecting recyclables in garbage. The Times reports that roughly 60 percent of an estimated 10,000 madrasas are operated by the radical sect Deobandi that created the Taliban.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .