Brussels (Brussels Morning) President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has called on international donors to maintain the level of aid to the country, with the EU pledging 1.2 billion euro over the next four-year period, the same as it did in 2016, DW and Reuters reported yesterday, Tuesday.
Speaking at the donor conference in Geneva, Ghani pointed out that the funds provided previously helped boost women’s education, lowered infant mortality and improved electricity supplies.
Representatives of some 70 countries attended the conference along with humanitarian aid organisations. Although representatives of the Taliban were not invited, the fundamentalist Islamic group called on donors to continue sending aid to Afghanistan and criticised the government for keeping the money for itself.
President Ghani warned that any significant reduction in financial support in the coming years would result in setbacks in living standards, economic activity and public services, as he underscored the importance of international aid for his country’s peace and development.
Afghanistan remains heavily reliant on international financial aid despite 19 years of reforms since the US brought down the Taliban in 2001.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi noted that the international aid and peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government were vital to the country’s future wellbeing.
Failure on either front would push Afghanistan backwards, he warned, and possibly lead to larger-scale displacement.
Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland that the coronavirus pandemic had worsened the situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people depend on humanitarian aid.
Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, pointed out that the EU was providing Afghanistan with 1.2 billion euro for the next four-year period. The UK pledged some 191 million euro annually in civilian and food aid.
While US President Donald Trump has announced lowering the number of troops in Afghanistan from about 4,500 to some 2,500 by mid-January, acting US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson stressed the US would continue its support to the country.
Afghanistan is on the path towards self-reliance, he noted, building on investments and achievements made in the last 19 years.
High Representative of the EU Josep Borrell called for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan and warned that any attempt to build an Islamic emirate would risk the bloc’s support.