Bush Requests Minimal Additional Funding for Afghan Reconstruction
While the Bush administration has requested an additional $66 billion to support its continuing military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has asked for only an additional $300 million for its reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, including roads, schools, health clinics, and local, small-scale projects. The US has only distributed $900 million in aid to Afghanistan since October 2001, and most of that aid has been emergency humanitarian and food assistance rather than the kind of major reconstruction aid needed to rebuild the country.
Humanitarian and women's rights groups have expressed concern that this additional funding falls short of the needs and Afghanistan is being shortchanged. Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani says that $30 billion is needed for reconstruction. So far, the international community has provided only $1.8 billion, with only a little of that money going to the Afghan government.
While Afghanistan has been making slow progress towards having national elections and rebuilding its country, attacks on girls' schools, increased crime, bombing of a civilian bus, rule by regional warlords, and threats against the United Nations and other humanitarian workers continue to threaten Afghanistan's recovery. The administration request includes over $400 million to train and support the Afghan National Army and national police, border, and highway patrol, but it contains no funding for the expansion of international peacekeeping troops (ISAF). According to BBC News, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently agreed that "an expansion of ISAF would be a good thing" but he sees that "the security situation in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan people." NATO, which now commands ISAF, has said they will "study" the possibility of ISAF expansion.
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
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Emphasizing her party's commitment to maintaining Taiwan's independence from China, Tsai won over young voters eager to usher in a political changing of the guard following some 70 years of dominance by the pro-Chinese unification party, the Kuomintang (KMT), chaired by presidential opponent Eric Chu. . . .