According to a research, British aid totaling hundreds of millions of pounds was used to finance Afghan police corruption.
Money sent to the nation prior to its capture by the Taliban in August of last year was discovered to have been used on plans for security and nation-building that were not “realistic” by the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact.
A total of more than £3.5 billion in aid was delivered to Afghanistan, including about £252 million ($305 million) for police operations. According to the ICAI, this money enabled “police corruption and violence, including extortion, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings.”
Equipment theft involving British aid funds was frequent, and police units regularly added “ghost cops” to their payrolls. Additionally, there were numerous reports of police officers abusing young boys while in positions of power.
When the problems became public, attempts to stop funding for the police were resisted at the “highest levels of the UK government,” according to the ICAI report.
The ICAI went on to say that although a UK decision to transfer funds through the Afghan government had exacerbated corruption and denied regional authorities access to desperately needed aid, British programs for women and girls that focused on issues like early motherhood and education had been largely successful.
Hugh Bayley, the commissioner of the ICAI, said: “The international evacuation from Afghanistan marked the end of one of the most ambitious undertakings ever pursued by UK aid.
“It’s clear that the remarkable efforts by those working on the UK aid program made a significant difference to many people in Afghanistan, including women and girls.
“However, the way the UK pursued its primary objective of building a viable Afghan state contained key flaws that contributed to its ultimate failure, and there are questions around the appropriateness of using UK aid to fund Afghan counter-insurgency operations.
“It’s not clear if the gains made by the UK’s aid program, in improving literacy and reducing child mortality for example, will last under Taliban rule, and there are lessons that must be learned and used to guide future stabilization and state-building initiatives,” he added.
British Conservative MP Richard Bacon told The Telegraph: “Aid workers in Afghanistan are to be commended on the effective work they have delivered through individual programs.
“However, the long-term success of the UK aid program in Afghanistan is in doubt as a result of the failure to secure a viable Afghan state.
“The independent aid watchdog, ICAI, rates the UK’s development assistance to Afghanistan as unsatisfactory in most areas.
“It has found that decisions to fund police or other security agencies were ill-conceived. The ICAI states that in highly fragile contexts such as this, ministers must consider the prospects of viable political settlements in the sustained belief of a successful transition out of conflict.
“This review demonstrates that individual UK aid programming can succeed, but ministers must work out their priorities and direct UK aid to where it counts,” he added.
A British Foreign Office spokesman told The Telegraph: “UK aid improved health; increased school enrolment; provided humanitarian support to the most vulnerable; and led the way in clearing landmines and other unexploded munitions across the country.
“We welcome the commission’s report and will provide a formal response in due course.”