Poor Afghans becoming more vulnerable to Taliban

(CBS News) KABUL - An assassin dealt another blow to peace efforts in Afghanistan on Sunday. A former Taliban official turned peace envoy was shot dead in Kabul while sitting in traffic. Arsala Rahmani was trying to set up formal talks with the insurgents to end the 11-year-old war.

To that end, Afghan leaders said today they'll take over security in areas that make up 75 percent of the nation's population in six months. CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports the transition leaves many Afghans in limbo.

The polite name for an overcrowded collection of mud huts is "informal settlement".

As many as 35,000 people live in one such place around Kabul alone, according to U.N. figures. Some of the people in one of the informal settlements have already been moved once to make way for commercial development.

They claim the land they were living on was taken over by corrupt officials for their own ends, and now they've being told to move again.

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About $60 billion worth of humanitarian aid has poured into Afghanistan in the past ten years. But much of it has been earmarked for crises, and since the problems in the squatter camps are chronic and long-standing, they don't qualify for it.

"The government not only doesn't care about us," Nour Mohammed said. "They want to destroy us."

The World Bank has warned that a sudden withdrawal of both foreign troops and aid money could "shock the country's fragile economy and pose a serious threat to security."

There's only one way to avoid that, according to Rohullah Ahmadzai of the Afghan Investment Support Agency.

"A real and honest commitment is needed from both Afghan government plus international community," Ahmadzai said.

More than one-third of Afghans live in absolute poverty, and most of the others aren't much better off.

The population of Kabul has more than tripled to five million people over the past ten years as people flee rural areas looking for both security and jobs.

There are no hard unemployment figures,but the lack of opportunity is obvious, which is where the Taliban comes in.

It pays fighters up to $20 per day, a serious reason to consider what's next for Afghanistan's economy when U.S. and other troops leave.

  • Allen Pizzey

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