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In South and Southeast Asia we work with local people to improve public security and access to justice, and advise on how businesses can operate in a conflict-sensitive way.

Peace Talks: Aiding peace in post-earthquake Nepal

Nepal is still suffering the effects of its 10-year armed conflict, with many underlying causes of the conflict, such as poverty and inequality, yet to be fully addressed. When the country was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes recently, communities around Nepal quickly pulled together to help one another, while people around the world donated funds.

But in countries like Nepal, experience shows that large amounts of aid can do harm as well as good. How can aid and reconstruction efforts be delivered in a way that minimises conflict and fosters lasting peace?

Conflict-sensitive employment in Afghanistan

This research project looks at the drivers and challenges of conflict-sensitive employment (CSE) strategies and investment in the labour intensive construction, infrastructure and transport sectors in Afghanistan. We also work in close cooperation with companies to run pilot schemes and develop concrete strategies on CSE, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups. We will also work to embed and advocate for CSE in investment strategies in Afghanistan and beyond.

Recipe for peace: Pesto (AFGHANISTAN)

As part of our Recipes for peace series, each week we feature an inspiring dish to celebrate the varied - and tasty - ways in which food can play a role in building peace. Stefan Gates

This week’s recipe comes from British television presenter, food writer, live performer and broadcaster Stefan Gates. Stefan, also known as the Gastronaut, has travelled the world exploring extraordinary food and what it reveals about different cultures. 

Stefan Gates’ Afghan Pesto (AFGHANISTAN)

My most memorable appearances on TV have, it’s fair to say, been of questionable cultural value. Eating radioactive soup, forcing kids to eat lambs’ testicles, making a cake out of my own body matter, that sort of thing. But my proudest moment – well that’s another thing entirely.


I was filming a documentary series called Cooking in the Danger Zone, about how people struggle to feed themselves in wildly differing situations including war zones. We found ourselves in Kabul, Afghanistan, at the end of a gruelling and stressful trip spent zipping around the country comparing how different armies, refugees and individuals struggled to survive.


The shoot was nearly over when we got a call asking me to come and appear on Afghan TV’s most popular show, The Cookery Show. I jumped at the chance! The only problem was that I was in a country where the food is fabulous (the Afghans are charcoal wizards), and the ingredients pretty much unfamiliar.


So I went to the market and grabbed the ingredients I was most familiar with and resolved to force them to become a dish! The shoot itself was a glorious disaster – the blender exploded, I covered the glamorous presenter, Frarzana, in pesto, and spent the entire show with a large bogey of the stuff dripping from my own nose, too. But with her good grace and help, we managed to make an absolute hum-dinger of a dish.Stefan being filmed at The Cookery Show


Afghanistan opened my eyes to the extraordinary charm and hospitality of the Afghan people. So many people I talked to were desperate for peace, and tired – so tired of conflict. Whether they were rich or desperately, desperately poor (and most of the people I met were the latter), the warmth of their welcome, their openness and the generosity of their tables (well, carpets) made me feel hopeful that one day, this country must surely return to the heights of peace, culture and tolerance it used to be famed for.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large bunch coriander, coarsely chopped
  • 2 handfuls peanuts, toasted or roasted
  • 1 cardamom pod, cracked, seeds only
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • Olive oil, for mixing
  • Pasta, cooked according to the instructions
  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 10 min

Cooking instructions (with pasta)

  • Put the coriander, peanuts, cardamom seeds and lime juice in a blender or food processor and process until chopped and combined.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture has the consistency of a soft paste.
  • Cook your pasta until al dente and drain. Pour a couple of glugs of olive oil over the pasta and toss it to coat.
  • Add a big spoonful of the pesto and stir through. Serve.

Women’s political participation in Sri Lanka

Last week International Alert, in collaboration with the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), held a discussion on increasing women’s participation in political institutions in Sri Lanka.

Migrant communities in Pakistan

International Alert has published new research aimed at strengthening the role of the private sector in supporting the peaceful integration of migrant communities in Pakistan, with a special focus on access to security and justice.

Conflict risks in post-earthquake Nepal

International Alert is calling for the government and aid agencies in Nepal to consider 'do no harm' principles in their aid delivery, and to think about including ways to empower excluded groups and to reinforce social cohesion in relief and recovery strategies.

Nepal earthquake

International Alert along with everyone else was shocked by the human and physical devastation caused by the earthquake that hit Nepal and neighbouring countries on 25 April.

Engaging women in politics

Last month International Alert Sri Lanka celebrated International Women’s Day with a conference promoting greater involvement of women in politics in the country.