Afghan security checked by Irish aid worker
A DUBLIN charity worker has told of the security challenges facing Irish aid projects in war-torn Afghanistan.
Peter Doyle, from Ballinteer, spoke to the Herald following a three-week security inspection aimed at supporting Concern's staff now working in the country.
Peter is the desk officer for the Irish charity in Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon - three of the most challenging countries in which Irish aid workers now operate.
"My job in Dublin is to support these countries as well as to be their focal point where I liaise between our people in the field and head office," Peter explained.
Concern is working in north east Afghanistan in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces and also in the capital Kabul.
Peter was in the country mainly to undertake a major security review.
His task was to ensure sufficient security procedures are in place concerning all 273 Concern staff in the country.
Security of staff is a priority for Concern, but Peter points out that the work supporting poor communities around the world is also vitally important.
"I talked to a cross-section of our staff, checking the areas where we might be vulnerable and how best to mitigate against any risks to our teams and programmes," Peter said.
"I also spent a week at our office in Kabul where we have a staff of five."
The Concern operation in the Afghan capital is critical as it primarily aims to help local women.
"In Kabul we work with women to help them sell their products and we facilitate women so that they can work together. In many parts of Afghanistan women are not permitted to leave the home without the permission of their husbands."
Security is of paramount importance in Afghanistan which has not only been hit by civil war and an insurgency but also by earthquakes, floods and even landslides.
"Our work reaches out to tens of thousands of people and we are the only Irish aid agency in the provinces where we are working," Peter explained.
Of the 273 Concern staff working in Afghanistan, all bar six are locals.
Peter has now worked in seven different countries over an 11-year stint with Concern.