Rather, the vast majority of funding provided to Afghanistan went to life saving, relief programs. The Taliban government was wary of advocacy NGOs engaged in political activity, but they were especially suspicious of international organizations because of their predominantly Western origin.
In addition to Taliban expulsions and voluntary withdrawals from the country, NGO financers also called for disengagement during this period. The Taliban was particularly restrictive on international organizations adhering to the Christian faith. However, crackdowns did not become commonplace until prior to the US-led invasion. In a separate instance a month later, the Taliban raided the offices of two Christian organizations—International Assistance Mission IAM and Serve International—and arrested several of their employees.
These NGOs were then ordered to close their offices and leave the country Salahuddin Although a limited number of international workers continued to operate in Afghanistan in , virtually all relocated to Pakistan following the 11 September attacks in anticipation of retaliatory military action Oliker et al. Most international organizations transferred their projects to local Afghan employees at this time. The flight of these organizations in September , coupled with the mass exodus of NGOs from Afghanistan over the previous six years, meant that the primary distribution network for humanitarian assistance was essentially nonfunctional once Operation Enduring Freedom OEF commenced on 7 October Oliker et al.
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In response to the need for assistance, the US military began to build its own systems for aid delivery. Simultaneously engaging in relief and development operations during major combat operations was a unique endeavor for military forces, as civil affairs units typically did not enter the theater until the post-conflict phase Oliker et al.
However, a shortage of NGOs in Afghanistan in late meant that the US military was one of the few entities capable of providing humanitarian relief to conflict-ridden areas of the country. These were the precursors to the Provincial Reconstruction Team PRT initiative, which took the lead in military development operations in Although their physical presence was largely restricted in and early , several NGOs expanded the scope of their projects at this time. Multiple organizations began to couple their traditional relief activities with broader development initiatives and advocacy work ACBAR These included governance, conflict resolution, human rights, and peacebuilding—actions that many NGOs were restricted from engaging in during the Taliban era.
As some have noted Rieff — , the NGO community would not have expanded into these sectors of activity if not for the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and toppling of the Taliban regime. The shift to greater political action and advocacy work by NGOs in Afghanistan was also donor-driven. In an effort to help rebuild the country, governments and international organizations increased funds for projects related to nation-building. Although the size and scope of NGO activity expanded during the years following the US-led invasion, Afghanistan soon became the most volatile country in the world for humanitarians to operate in following the resurgence of the Taliban see Humanitarian Outcomes Nonetheless, as is detailed in the following section, the total number of NGOs active in Afghanistan continued to increase year-to-year in spite of the deteriorating security situation.
The following section provides a visual overview and summary of the dataset. In an effort to enhance existing information on NGOs in Afghanistan, data on NGO activities and locations were collected and coded through research and correspondence with organizations operating in the field. Although the Afghan government publishes a registration list of organizations, the list includes only limited information.
For example, only organizations are listed in the most recent publicly-available registration list Afghanistan Ministry of Economy Moreover, simply because an organization is registered with the government does not necessarily mean they are active in the field.
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Using these publications as a starting point, an online search using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and LexisNexis was then conducted to identify additional organizations. To enhance the reliability and validity of the data, e-mails were sent and phone calls were made to each organization for confirmation. A total of international and local NGOs made the final list. Table 1 provides the number of NGOs operative in Afghanistan by year and nationality between and The lowest number of organizations active in a given year was in and the highest was in The nationality of of the NGOs in the dataset were identified.
As Figure 1 highlights, of those organizations were local 58 percent and were international 42 percent. Figure 2 reveals that international NGOs were the majority during the first five years after the invasion, but local NGOs made up the bulk of organizations in the pre-invasion period and after There was a consistent annual increase in NGOs until —, after which the number slightly dropped. This coincides with the withdrawal of US troops from the country beginning in June Figure 3 maps the NGO presence throughout Afghanistan during the to period.
The total number of NGOs operative in each province per year is detailed in Table 2. The province of Kabul had the most organizations active within its borders during the period with a high of in a given year, followed by Nangarhar with a high of and Balkh with a high of The provinces with the fewest NGOs were Nuristan with a high of 33 in a given year and Paktika and Zabul, both with highs of 37, and as expected, NGO presence was found to be significantly related to provincial population.
Kabul 4. Figure 4 and Figure 5 map the local and international NGO presence respectively. The total number of local NGOs operative in each province per year is detailed in Table 3 and the total number of international NGOs is detailed in Table 4. A review of projects carried out by NGOs revealed 24 frequent sectors of activity. Figure 6 provides the number of organizations active in each of these sectors. Education primary and secondary was the most popular with NGOs active in the sector, followed by health and vocational training with NGOs and NGOs respectively. Of the NGOs identified in the dataset, only were single-mandate while engaged in multi-sectoral activity.
On average, an individual NGO operative in Afghanistan was found to be simultaneously active in three different sectors. NGO-specific information is available in the dataset. As noted in the previous section, a shift toward more politically-oriented advocacy work by NGOs was observed following the US-led invasion.
For example, Atmar and Goodhand 11 distinguish between organizations working in conflict and working on conflict.
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While the former refers to NGOs engaged in a principled independent, impartial, and neutral approach to delivering aid, the latter refers to those with a conflict reduction or peacebuilding agenda. Others have categorized organizations as minimalists —those seeking to alleviate suffering—and consequentialists —those wanting to improve the human condition through social transformation Calhoun 73— Barnett and Snyder — differentiate humanitarian action into apolitical and political categories.
They define apolitical humanitarian activities as those not intended to alter governance arrangements that are assumed to be the cause of suffering, and political activities as those that are intended to do so.
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Using these operational definitions, the data reveal that 67 percent of the NGOs that were active in Afghanistan between and were apolitical, while 33 percent were political. This is highlighted in Figure 7. This finding reveals that there was a considerable overlap between apolitical and political NGO activity in Afghanistan during the period under analysis.
Previous information on international and local NGO activity in Afghanistan has been limited and scarce, especially at the subnational-level. The dataset introduced in this article helps to fill this gap by providing information on NGOs that were active in the country between and It is hoped that the data and information presented will be of use to academics, practitioners, and policymakers working on issues pertaining to international development. There is no better place to start this intrusion of God into our lives than talking about how we think about him and how we practice our faith in him.
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Writing to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul begins his letter with his deep desire that his readers grow in their understanding of God. Before we can understand God, we must be open to receiving his spirit. And when I mean being open, I mean being willing to accept that within all the strangeness and chaos of this complicated and fallen world, there is a divine thread that runs through life maintaining a common decency that can only be ascribed to God. Last Sunday, during all the exciting chaos of the open house, I met a young man brought to our church by one of our members.
This young man served his home country of Afghanistan as a local doctor in Kabul.
When allied troops entered Afghanistan, this young Muslim man assisted U. Once the war was over and American troops started to leave, his life was in grave danger by those considering him a traitor. Fearful, he sought and received permission to enter the U. Now, he lives in Oklahoma having no understanding of what his future holds. Before we met though, God was already one step of us in the most unusual way.
A Brief History of NGOs in Afghanistan
Immediately after hearing from the reporter, I received call from our member and his Afghani friend. As we met for coffee, the reporter called me ready for the interview. Many people shared and contacted me about his situation and waiting to help with a job. Seriously, how mazing is that? How unbelievably amazing can God be when we set down our preconceived notions about him? How often could we see his glory if we dare to think outside our understanding of the world and see it as God sees it?
My new friend is with us this morning. Thank you for your service and reminding me God still leaps over our understandings to do amazing things. I can tell you what would happen…with all due respect to the Reformers on this Reformation Sunday…. And this is where we start in this new dynamic in faith.
Let that settle in for a moment, shall we? Our faith in Christ Jesus began with love. It was baptized in love. For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, Though it were told you.
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For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. Look at the surrounding nations and from them will come a nation that will be My instrument of judgment on sinful Judah. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves.
Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings, And princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it. Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god. The LORD told him that the judgment would indeed come, and when it came through the Babylonians it would be terrible and dreadful.
He commits offense, ascribing this power to his god : When the Babylonians would come and overwhelm the land of Judah, they would wrongly give the credit to their false gods. The LORD knew and said they would do this before it ever happened. We shall not die. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?
Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.