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If humanitarian agencies are to regain the trust of the Afghans it remains of crucial importance that they continue to demonstrate their distance from the military forces.

The military forces need to understand and respect this strategy and refrain from using humanitarian symbols and projects. The NGOs have a major job to do in informing Afghans of their intentions and their programmes, and to stick to the promises they make. They need to reflect critically on their own position. On the one hand, they need to decide whether they just wish to capitalise on available funds and limit themselves to project implementation. On the other hand, they need to side with the Afghan population and to voice their concerns against aggressively performed military operations, as well as against oppressive and corrupt government officials, humanitarian agencies failing to live up to people's expectations and against the violence that particularly affects women. The latter strategy might result in less funding but warmer welcomes in Afghan villages and townships.