This is a story of an Afghan wedding gone badly wrong. Or perhaps of “an operation in search of an insurgent leader,” as the official report later said. It is hard to tell which. Probably both.
Meet Abdulrashid, a man with no last name, no profession, no literacy skills and no exact date of birth. He might be in his 30s. I first encounter him as I am interviewing internally displaced people in Afghanistan to highlight their fate, lest the world forget about them after foreign troops withdraw in 2014. Other refugees point him out, ask me to listen to his story: “Tell the world, please.”
Abdulrashid starts by describing to me an idyllic scene from this past March: As the last snows were melting in his village in northern Afghanistan, friends and family gathered in his three-room house to celebrate his sister’s wedding.… Seguir leyendo »
At a roundabout in Juba, southern Sudan’s capital, stands a digital clock. It has four faces, each titled «Countdown to Southern Sudan Referendum — Period Remaining.» The referendum on Jan. 9 is part of the peace agreement signed in 2005 ending the civil war between northern and southern Sudan, and its outcome will determine if Sudan remains one country or becomes two. Each side of the clock has a drawing of a pair of hands wearing broken handcuffs, chain still dangling — a not-so-subtle comment about what the southern Sudanese think of being ruled by Khartoum. Below the hands are boxes to designate the remaining days, hours and minutes.… Seguir leyendo »
The new commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, announced: «The Afghan people are at the center of our mission. In reality, they are the mission.» The four-star general was wearing military fatigues, but his wording sounded civilian. Indeed, when President Obama explained in March how the United States plans «to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan,» he ordered a «civilian surge» in Afghanistan. But make no mistake: The civilian part of the coalition operations here is subservient to the military arm, and the two are known together as an «integrated approach.»
The problem with this approach is that when military structures perform or oversee civilian tasks, the nonmilitary humanitarian work often gets politicized and militarized, and the difference between the two is blurred.… Seguir leyendo »
«Chu-ku-du, chu-ku-du, chu-ku-du» goes the wooden scooter as it bumps along the lava-covered streets of this central African city. It’s a strange-looking contraption, like a handmade toy for grown-ups: two rubber-covered wheels connected by a board, with a steering handle atop an upside-down fork.
Even the oldest people can’t remember when and how the onomatopoeically named chukudu first appeared in this part of North Kivu, an area of eastern Congo between the north shore of Lake Kivu and the heart of the Virunga National Park. But it is to Goma what the bicycle is to Amsterdam and the horse-drawn carriage to New York’s Central Park.… Seguir leyendo »