$25 bn Afghan war cost to hit Canada’s economy

October 9th, 2008 - 11:01 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 9 (IANS) A Canadian think-tank has warned that the extension of the country’s Afghan mission till 2011 will cost another 28 billion Canadian dollars (US$25 billion), squeezing the economy as it faces recession.In its report titled “The Cost of the War and the End of Peacekeeping: The Impact of Extending the Afghanistan Mission”, the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute on International Affairs said Wednesday that the cost of the Afghan war will hit the country hard, raising questions about its ability to afford the mission.

Taking aim at the government, the report said Canada has turned its back on its long-term policy of peace-keeping role around the world.

The report said the Afghan mission will cost Canada $20.7 billion (Canadian) by 2011. Further, the deaths and injuries will pose additional burden of $7.6 billion, taking the total war cost to $28 billion.

“It’s clear that the government’s budgetary and foreign policy hands will be tied if it intends to keep our troops in Afghanistan through December 2011,” said Rideau Institute president Steven Staples.

Worse still, he said, “the cost of the war in Afghanistan has essentially resulted in the abandonment of Canada’s 50-year commitment to UN peacekeeping.”

David Mcdonald, the co-author of the report, added: “Since the Afghanistan mission began and costs for the war continued to rise, the Department of National Defence has reduced Canada’s UN peacekeeping contributions by 83 percent, from $94.1 million in 2000-01 to an estimated $15.6 million in 2008-09.”

“In July 2008, total Canadian personnel contributions to UN operations were a mere 167 (including soldiers and police), ranking Canada 53rd of 119 contributing nations, next to Slovakia at 52nd and Malawi at 54th.”

Canada, which joined the NATO-led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002, extended its mission till 2011 earlier this March when the mission was to end.

The country has lost almost 100 troops in the six-year war. Most of Canada’s 2,500 troops are deployed in Kandahar province.

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