IPI HomeEventsSpeakers EventsKeating: Equal Time for Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

 

print print  |  share share back back

Speaker Events - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keating: Equal Time for Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

“Why is it that the humanitarian dimension to Afghanistan constantly gets forgotten or air brushed out of things?” said Michael Keating, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“This is unfortunately one of the biggest humanitarian case loads in the world… So often we’re focused on 'green on blue,' we’re focused on Haqqanis, we’re focused on all the drama and the horror, we forget that it’s the welfare of the people, it’s the human development, it’s the humanitarian situation which needs to be addressed if Afghanistan’s future is to be both secure and prosperous and politically stable.”

Mr. Keating spoke at IPI on September 11, 2012 for an event entitled “Afghanistan: The Humanitarian Challenges Ahead.”

The event inaugurated IPI’s Humanitarian Affairs Series, which features UN humanitarian coordinators and senior humanitarian leaders from the field on their visits to New York, much like the way that IPI showcases the work of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in its SRSG series.

“Afghans are facing a very uncertain and unpredictable future, and they are hedging their bets in terms of how to handle this future,” said Mr. Keating. “They’re facing the reality of the departure of the international military… they’re facing the prospect of elections in 2014…they’re also facing uncertainties over peace and reconciliation.”

He added, “I think the responsibility of the international community is to help Afghans reduce that level of uncertainty, reduce that level of unpredictability… failure to address development, failure to address the humanitarian needs will have very negative consequences for the entire project and for the ability of the government to persuade the people that it is able to respond to their needs.”

As part of his presentation, Mr. Keating also addressed the situation facing Afghan women, the challenges of UN integrated missions, and the need for humanitarian access. On access, Mr. Keating said, “The key issue is to gain the confidence of communities… to share experience, not to adopt a cookie-cutter approach, and to back up practical field level attempts to achieve access.”

While Mr. Keating emphasized the need to focus on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation, he also faulted the international media’s dire portrayal of the country.
 
“The mood about Afghanistan seems to be much more negative outside Afghanistan than it is when you’re actually there.”
 
“Undoubtedly, the most important Afghan partners are local communities… one of the most remarkable things about Afghanistan is not what has gone wrong, but what has actually continued to go right, and one of those things has been the resilience of community structures,” said Mr. Keating. “Having said that, we are concerned that Afghan resilience is eroding.”

The Humanitarian Affairs Series aims to provide a dedicated forum in New York for humanitarian practitioners in the field to meet with the broader UN and international community. “It is an opportunity to debate and reflect with experienced practitioners on the greatest humanitarian challenges today,” said Jérémie Labbé, IPI Senior Policy Analyst, during his opening remarks.

The event was moderated by Maureen Quinn, IPI Senior Adviser.

Listen to Global Observatory interview with Michael Keating>>

Watch the event video:

The Global Observatory

Year in Review: Top 10 Peace and Security Reads
The International Peace Institute and its Global Observatory offered research and analysis on a range of topics in peace and security in 2014.

Key Global Events to Watch in December
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

December 15, 2014
Fathi: Iran and the Struggle Between Hardliners and Reformers
Discussing her new book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran at IPI on December 15th, author Nazila Fathi said that 35 years after the revolution, Iran is divided between hardliners and a large moderate middle class, but admitted that it is still unclear which of the two sides will gain the upper hand.

December 12, 2014
Effective Governance Key to Africa’s Rise
Good governance is the key to Africa’s rise, but structural challenges are pulling the continent back, according to a new report launched at a December 12th IPI policy forum entitled “Effective Governance in Challenging Environments.”

December 09, 2014
Small States in a Multilateral World
Despite their size and limited resources, small states have an important and crucial role to play in the multilateral system and can leverage their power through cooperation.

View More