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Despite $115 Billion In Reconstruction Aid, Afghanistan Is In Bad Shape

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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After 15 years of war and reconstruction efforts, basic security, infrastructure and economy measures show Afghanistan is slipping, according to a government report.

“Past gains are eroding: poverty, unemployment, underemployment, violence, outmigration, internal displacement, and the education gender gap have all increased, while services and private investment have decreased,” a quarterly report from the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says.

The U.S. has given $5.73 billion to the reconstruction effort in 2016, bringing the total cost of reconstruction to $115 billion. (RELATED: Govt Investigator: Aid Money Sloshed Around Afghanistan ‘Like A Bathtub Running Over’)

Portions of the Afghan economy show some signs of improvement. The International Monetary Fund says that Aghanistan’s gross domestic product, not counting opium production which increased about 40 percent this year, grew by 2 percent in 2016. The government brought in $1.76 billion to date, 42.5 percent more than the same period in 2015. The government’s expenses totaled $3.38 billion so far in 2016, 6.5 percent higher than in 2015.

The report notes that “Afghanistan’s large year-on-year revenue increase does not reflect an improved economy” since increased inflation skews the measurement.

The biggest problem facing Afghanistan is the security issue and the constant pressure from insurgent groups like the Taliban and Al Qaida.The Afghan government controlled 63.4 percent of the country as of Aug. 28, decreased by nearly 2 percent from the 65.6 percent it controlled on May 28. Of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, the Taliban controls 33, and 116 are contested. (RELATED: More Than 5,000 Afghan Troops Killed This Year As Obama’s War In Afghanistan Continues To Fall Apart)

“Afghan army and police numbers remain below authorized-strength goals,” the report says. The U.S. has taken on an advisory role in Afghanistan’s army and police units, but the national security forces haven’t been able to pick up the full burden of policing the country.

SIGAR’s report says that the security forces have “questionable abilities to sustain and maintain units and materiel,” and they routinely “deploy commando and other highly skilled units on missions that should be undertaken by regular units.”

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