Afghan census depends on security
Sat May 17, 5:58 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) – A historic population count due to start in war-ravaged Afghanistan next month is dependent on the security situation, census authorities assessing safety on the ground warned Saturday.
Census workers have fanned out across the insurgency-hit country to check if it is safe enough to go ahead with the head count, Central Statistics Office chief Abdul Rahman Ghafoori said.
“We are in the process of analysing the security situation to see if we are able or not to conduct the population census,” he told reporters.
“After we have analysed the situation, we will ask the government for go-ahead orders,” he said.
Ghafoori rejected the possibility of Afghan security forces or international troops being brought in to protect census takers, saying, “We want the process to be independent.”
In April a district census official was killed in an ambush in the eastern province of Paktia that was blamed on Taliban insurgents. Insurgency related unrest has also hampered UN backed polio vaccination programmes for children in rebel strongholds in the south.
The Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001, have led a wave of attacks that have made many parts of eastern and southern Afghanistan no-go areas for outsiders.
Afghanistan’s only previous census was started in 1979 but was not completed after the Soviet invasion that year plunged the country into decades of war.
An unofficial household count in 2002 had suggested there were then roughly 24.5 million people in the country, Ghafoori told AFP.
The US Central Intelligence Agency “world factbook” puts the Afghan population at 33 million this year.