Afghanistan aid a problem, BBC's Clark tells MPs

MPs have been told by a BBC journalist that pouring food aid into Afghanistan has actually led to more opium being grown.

“It harms the local market, making it more likely people will grow opium because they can make more money,” Kate Clark told the foreign affairs select committee this week.

The MPs, who have launched an inquiry into the foreign policy aspects of the war against terrorism, called in Clark to hear her assessment of the situation before flying to Afghanistan themselves in May.

Clark spent three years in Afghanistan and was the only Kabul-based foreign correspondent during the Taliban era.

She told chairman Donald Anderson and other MPs that the need was for more peacekeepers. “Security is the key to everything else in Afghanistan.

It doesn’t matter how much aid you put into the country if the basic level of security isn’t there.”

She said killings had risen from one or two a month to 80 in January, and while it had been safe to travel when the Taliban were in power, the south and east of the country were now out of bounds for aid workers.

Clark gave evidence with Peter Marsden of the Refugee Council.

Since returning from Afghanistan in 2002 she has worked for The World Tonight and has just joined the Today programme.

By David Rose

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