War on Terrorism

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Afghan Tribes Find Common Ground During Humanitarian Aid Drop

By Army Sgt. Rob Frazier
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 12, 2009 - Every summer, the Kuchi tribe migrates through the Daymardad district of this central-Afghanistan province, allowing their animals to graze in the open pastures belonging to the Hazara tribe. This frequently has sparked violent territorial disputes. After hearing of the conflict, U.S. forces at Forward Operating Base Airborne approached Wardak Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai about a peaceful way to resolve the fighting between the two tribes.

"The mission was inspired from the age-old conflict between the Kuchi nomads and the Hazara," said Army Maj. Joe Asher, deputy civil affairs officer for the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "Three weeks ago, we went to Daymardad, and it was a very positive step for us. The Kuchi elders said they would not migrate if they were given food, water and vaccination supplies for their animals."

Once learning of a possible solution, soldiers from 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, delivered the first installment of humanitarian aid to the Daymardad people.

"We hope this demonstrates that we're saying, 'Hey, we're taking the steps to alleviate your problems,'" Asher said. "Although this is funded by us, it's important for the Kuchi and Hazara to know this is enacted by the Afghan government."

The first delivery included sacks of beans, sugar, flour, rice and boxes of cooking oil. Asher added that a second shipment of humanitarian aid likely would be made within the next week.

"We plan to follow this up with water, tents and veterinarian supplies," Asher said. "This way, the Kuchi won't have to move their livestock, because they will have what they need."

Ali Khashe, deputy governor of Wardak province, was on hand to greet the soldiers and meet with the Kuchi tribesmen prior to handing out the food. Inside the district center, Khashe fielded questions from the elders regarding water and vaccination requests for their livestock. Khashe told them he knows their issues cannot be solved all at once, but that he hopes they understand the leaders are working as hard as possible to meet their needs.

"The governor's office is trying to solve their problems," Khashe said. "It's our priority to convince the two tribes to live like brothers."

The deputy governor said the humanitarian aid is a step in the right direction, and another example of coalition efforts to help the Afghan people.

"The district center and the people here all know the U.S. comes to help," he said. "They are very happy, because everyone knows the U.S. forces came to help rebuild Afghanistan. We are very grateful for their assistance."

Asher said that with U.S. assistance and cooperation from the Wardak government, the humanitarian aid will signal the start of a change for the Kuchi and Hazara tribes in the Daymardad region.

"Hopefully, this will result in the first nonviolent summer between them in a long time," he said.

(Army Sgt. Rob Frazier serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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