Afghanistan: February 12, 2002


Afghans keen on stealing foreign aid have systematically lied to aid organizations in the largest refugee camp in Afghanistan. It turned out, after a careful census (and the use of armed guards for the census takers) that about 70 percent of the 324,000 refugees previously registered, did not exist. The tribal nature of Afghan society causes locals to grab all they can, even if it means other Afghans down the road have to go without. On a more positive note, the interim defense minister has told Russia that Afghanistan does not need new weapons for it's new army. Rather, they need help in repairing and reconditioning all the weapons they already have. The Northern Alliance received about $30 million worth of Russian weapons, mostly Cold War surplus. The Russians would like to sell new weapons, as that would give the Russian arms export industry a nice chunk of the reconstruction money being provided by the industrialized nations. So this announcement is encouraging, for new weapons contracts would be ripe for corruption (there is no fixed price list for Russian weapons, allowing one to build in all manner of special fees and commissions.) Germany is contributing four million dollars towards a program to train and equip a national police force of 29,000 cops. 


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