Lack of Transparency in Humanitarian Aid; An Aid Organization Halts Activities in Bamiyan Province

In response to grievances voiced by the people of Bamiyan province, one of the aid organizations, ASO, has ceased operations. The residents of Bamiyan province have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of work, inadequate management, improper client conduct, and a lack of transparency in the way that local, national, and international aid agencies distribute aid. Specifically, the elders of the Saighan district in the province‘s central part have complained, prompting the suspension of ASO‘s operations. The aid agencies are being urged to investigate this matter thoroughly.

The Taliban reportedly seized the operations of the internal aid organization, ASO, on Tuesday, February 21, which supplies the Saighan, Kahmard, Shibar, and central Bamiyan districts with humanitarian aid from the World Food Program (WFP), according to two reliable sources from the Saighan district of Bamiyan province.

According to sources, the World Food Program, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in Afghanistan (UNOCHA), and the Taliban‘s Directorate of Economics have submitted a complaint to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid in Afghanistan (UNOCHA) on behalf of the inhabitants and representatives of Saighan districts in the center of Bamiyan.

The two international humanitarian organizations have not commented on the complaint filed by the people of Bamiyan against the ASO aid organization. HashteSubh has received a copy of the fivepoint complaint letter from the residents of Sighan district in this province, which has been endorsed by local councils at least nine times. The letter of protest from the Saighan district residents states that in October of last year, around 500 parcels of humanitarian aid from the World Food Organization were not distributed to those in need due to a lack of activity and poor management at the ASO organization, and were thus returned.

According to the lawsuit, this institution conducted an unjust survey in the Saighan district in October of last year to identify impoverished individuals and families. They allege that the ASO organization‘s surveyors did not visit the remote communities in the Saighan district of Bamiyan province.

The fourth article of this complaint states that there is a great deal of animosity and hostile interaction between the personnel and the beneficiaries. They are using language that is not polite or humane, and there have even been instances of ASSO staff making physical contact with referrers while providing aid, and verbally abusing the disadvantaged.

The manner in which relief organizations distribute humanitarian aid to the people in the center of Bamiyan province is unsatisfactory to the inhabitants of the area. Safdar Ali (a pseudonym), a resident of the center of Bamiyan, told HashteSubh that, for example, if the organization wishes to give 100 or 200 aid cards, the person in charge of the organization must obtain permission from the governor or the head of the economy of the Taliban to distribute them. He made it clear that the governor would give at least 20 of these cards to his friends and family, and the head of the economy would distribute the remaining 20 cards to his own people.

Safdar Ali is not only dissatisfied with ASO; he also claims that the Abrar Institute, which distributes aid from the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations, employs the same strategy. Furthermore, he states that there are few people in need who are receiving assistance from these programs.

A transit official in Bamiyan city informed HashteSubh that, in addition to the ASO organization, other relief organizations in the province have caused numerous Bamiyan citizens to become displaced under the guise of providing aid. He also noted that some of these organizations, including the ASO, have conducted surveys in the city‘s neighborhoods without consulting the transit employees beforehand.

Abdul Sabour Farzan Sighani, the spokesperson for the Taliban governor in Bamiyan, asserts that the activities of the ASO organization have been halted due to grievances from inhabitants of the Saighan district and other districts representatives in the center of Bamiyan province. He further states that the World Food Program (WFP) representatives in Bamiyan have been assigned to address the complaints.

Abdul Jalil Amini, the director of the ASO aid agency in Bamiyan, did not provide information on the organization‘s activity being suspended, but instead stated:The assistance that was returned from the Saighan district in October of last year due to the World Food Program‘s delay has been provided again to 180 people as of January 2023.”

The inhabitants of Bamiyan province have expressed grievances concerning the lack of effort, unprofessional behaviour, and inferior quality of aid items provided by humanitarian organizations, as well as the involvement of local Taliban officials in the distribution of these aid items; however, no organization has yet responded to these claims.