I applaud Post correspondent N.C. Aizenman ["Fighting a Hard, Half-Forgotten War," front page, June 22] for drawing attention to the situation in Afghanistan. But her story also unwittingly highlighted a hazard of the situation: While U.S. and international forces search for terrorists, they give drugs and supplies to villagers in exchange for information, blurring the line between military power and humanitarian aid. One result has been that relief organizations have come under increased attack as insurgents perceive them to be working for U.S. military interests.

In 2003, 12 employees of nongovernmental organizations were killed in Afghanistan; that number doubled in 2004. These figures do not include more than a dozen election workers slain in the past 12 months; nor do they reflect kidnappings and injuries from explosives or small-arms fire.

As a result, esteemed relief groups such as Doctors Without Borders have pulled out of Afghanistan, and large swaths of the country remain in desperate need of assistance.

While the United States should not stop delivering humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, it should reassess who hands out the goods. Otherwise, the lives of everyone -- our troops, aid workers and ordinary Afghans -- will continue to be in danger.



The writer is deputy communications manager of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, an independent think tank based in Kabul.