Aid agencies give limited backing to Government teams

UK aid agencies have given a cautious welcome to news that the Government could send a specialist security and reconstruction team to Afghanistan within three months.

They have decided to back the formation of the team despite fears that the impartiality of their partner NGOs could be compromised by the move.

The Provincial Reconstruction Team is likely to be led by staff from the Department for International Development, but will also include workers from the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. It will attempt to tackle the humanitarian crisis outside the war-torn country's major cities.

"When the teams were first proposed, NGOs were alarmed because it was thought that they would control and co-ordinate aid work in the country," said Peter Marsden, co-ordinator of umbrella group British Agencies Afghanistan.

"But we've had long discussions with the UK and the US, and have been assured that these concerns will be taken into account."

A spokesperson for DFID said: "There will be a relationship between the team and NGOs, but it will be something that is developed on the ground.

"We welcome the agencies' good will towards the team and hope to build on it."

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