WVU-P employee visits Afghanistan

Emmanuel Ogwude of Parkersburg is giving Afghan humanitarian aid workers a voice in the Afghanistan war.

Ogwude, program manager at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, recently spent two weeks collecting data and interviewing humanitarian workers in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.

Ogwude’s findings will be the basis for his dissertation for his Ph.D. in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He expects to finish his academic work this year.

“I wanted to get their (humanitarian aid workers from Afghanistan) perspective on the war on terror,” Ogwude told me. “On their ability to provide aid service” during the war.

Ogwude talked to several Afghan humanitarian aid workers and non-governmental organization citizens to obtain opinions on the war, which began in 2001. Some interviews were conducted using interpreters, while a few Afghans understood English.

Ogwude is waiting for transcripts of his interviews to be translated by a company and returned to him for his project.

Although they have not taken sides in the Afghanistan war, the Afghan humanitarian aid workers are looked on with suspicion by some needy Afghans, who see them receive aid from the U.S. and international forces, Ogwude said.

Aid workers have been attacked and captured, he said. They enter dangerous areas, often getting caught in the middle of the fighting, to provide food and shelter to Afghan citizens.

Afghanistan lacks social service organizations to provide relief for the war-torn people.

The Afghan aid workers told Ogwude there are no terrorists in Afghanistan. The terrorists are in Pakistan and Iran, they said. The Afghan people wondered why the U.S. and international forces are bombing their country and not Pakistan and Iran.

When Ogwude asked the workers what they foresaw for their country when the U.S. military drawdown is completed next year, they said they were fearful for the stability of Afghanistan unless the United States brokers a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“They don’t want the United States to stay, but they don’t want us to pull away fast,” Ogwude said. A lot of gains have been made in Afghanistan since the United States’ arrival, but a continued long-term presence is not the answer, the Afghan workers told him.

The Western alliance has built roads, buildings and houses, and rebuilt Kabul University, he said.

Although Afghanistan remains a male-dominated, Islamic country, schools for females have been established. These schools were not possible under the Taliban regime, Ogwude said.

The mention of the Taliban brought tears to the eyes of the humanitarian aid workers, Ogwude said.

Ogwude said he did not put himself at risk during his stay in Kabul. The trip was well planned and he was careful about the people he met with.

Checkpoints and gun-carrying police were prevalent, he said. Ogwude received alert updates on areas where fighting was taking place.

Ogwude hopes the various Afghan factions can stop fighing and start talking.

He found the Afghan people to be hard working and a vibrant economy exists in Kabul.

Ogwude believes Afghanistan relies too much on financial assistance from the United States.

He was told about problems surrounding U.S. contractors in the country who have not finished roads and other projects and drive up costs.

The Associated Press reported that Afghan subcontractors may be owed as much as $70 million by U.S. contractors.

“Afghanistan needs law and order and structure,” Ogwude said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com