News : Afghan Phone-in Tip Lines Aid Election Security
March 26, 2014 -- Afghanistan's emergency police tip line, 119, and Independent Election Commission (IEC) information line, 190, are playing an important role in keeping the country safe, officials told Central Asia Online.
The 119 24-hour call centre has had several achievements over the last seven years, Col. Mohammad Humayoun Ayeni, director of the police emergency call centre at the Ministry of Interior (MoI), told Central Asia Online.
Calls from concerned citizens have allowed authorities to arrest 17-18 corrupt policemen, defuse 589 bombs, arrest 17 suicide bombers and seize 12 suicide vests, he said.
The call centre last November received a tip that led authorities to a truck loaded with 70 bags of ammonium nitrate the Taliban planned to use in an attack against the Loya Jirga, Ayeni added.
"In special cases we financially reward those who help us with the information ... against the enemies," he said, adding that the tip lines protect caller confidentiality and allow for a streamlined process of responding to the problems.
Call centres in Kandahar, Herat, Helmand, Jalalabad and Balkh provinces have 100 employees and the authorities are expecting two more branches to open in Kunduz and Paktika provinces, he said.
"We receive 750-800 calls a day but would like to see more people report problems," he added.
The IEC last June established the 190 call centre to help provide voters with information regarding polling sites, locations of voting registration locations and also information about candidates.
"We have traditional ways of boosting public awareness such as TVs, radios, banners, posters and other means, but the call centre is a modern way of reaching people," Ahmadullah Archiwal, head of the IEC's public awareness directorate, said, adding that the centre receives 5,500-6,000 phone calls a day.
"We also have 1,450 male and female officers in the field who go door to door and give information about elections," he said.
Call centres like 119 and 190 are useful in bridging the gap between the government and ordinary Afghans, Balkh Province resident Nasrullah Nadim, 26, said. However, the public isn't very aware of the tip lines because they are a relatively new concept in Afghanistan.
Authorities, though, are using billboards, TV and radio ads to boost public awareness, Ayeni said, adding that tipsters also can report problems online.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, March 28, 2014