(CNSNews.com) – Removing the markings that identify humanitarian aid being delivered to Afghans living in temporary camps is not in response to the deaths of at least four Americans, a spokesman for USAID told CNSNews.com.
“This precedes the current situation over the Quran burnings,” the spokesman said on Wednesday.
The USAID spokesman said the practice is not out of a “particular fear of ordinary citizens,” but of insurgents looking for specific targets.
“There’s not branding in specific incidences where there could be a threat,” the spokesman said. “It’s important to make that distinction.”
But media reports have linked the anonymous help coming from the United States – the largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan – with the “anti-American climate” in the country.
National Public Radio reported on Wednesday that people at the camps don’t know that some of the aid in the camps for displaced persons comes from the United States.
“But with the anti-American climate in Afghanistan - even before the Quran burnings - USAID has been keeping its logo off the aid it gives because of the danger it might pose,” said NPR reporter Quil Lawrence. “Even for a refugee, it's not safe to bed down on a blanket with a big American insignia on it.
“After the killings of American servicemen deep inside the Afghan interior ministry, some are wondering if the same danger applies to NATO advisors,” Lawrence said.
A Feb. 12 report in the New York Times said the USAID director in Afghanistan “confirmed that the aid was not being identified as coming from the United States, in case it might pose some risk or discomfort to the recipients.”
The same article quoted Lane Hartill, a spokesman for Save the Children, who said the humanitarian organization preferred to distribute aid without identifying the source.
“Our ability to provide help in a place like Afghanistan relies on us being neutral and being perceived as neutral,” Hartill said.