UN maps show security worsening in Afghanistan: report
KABUL — Confidential UN maps show a clear deterioration in security in parts of Afghanistan this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, as its mission there acknowledged security in some parts had worsened.
Two United Nations maps, one showing the situation at the start of this year’s fighting season in March and the other towards its end in October, highlight a particular decline in parts of the north and east, the paper said.
Kieran Dwyer, communications director of the UN mission in Afghanistan, acknowledged security had got worse in some parts, hampering its mission, although he said he had not seen the maps.
“There are parts of the country that have become increasingly difficult to operate in during 2010 due to insecurity.
“This includes the targeting of humanitarian workers and government officials whose jobs it is to deliver services to the people,” he told AFP.
“As the conflict intensifies in certain parts of the country, we’re seeing insurgents bobbing up in districts which have previously not been a target.”
While the situation in the south — the fiercest battleground between US-led troops and the Taliban — remained virtually unchanged between the two maps at “very high risk”, it worsened in 16 districts in the north and east, the paper reported.
These districts were in the provinces of Badghis, Sari Pul, Balkh, Parwan, Baghlan, Samangan, Faryab, Laghman and Takhar.
The paper added that only two districts previously deemed high risk — one in Kunduz in the north and another in Herat in the west — had received a safer rating in October.
Earlier this month a US review described strategy as being “on track” but warned that gains were fragile, a year after President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 extra troops into battle.
There are around 140,000 US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of whom are from the United States, fighting a nine-year Taliban insurgency.
A limited withdrawal of troops is expected to start in July 2011 and foreign troops are preparing for a planned security handover to Afghan forces in 2014.
Violence in the north has steadily worsened over the last two years despite the Taliban insurgency having its powerbase in the south.
The United Nations uses the maps to assess the dangers of travelling and running schemes across Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal said.