Donors pledge billions to Afghanistan, however with strings hooked up | Asia

Many countries put limits on committed funds pending progress on talks between the Taliban and the government, among other things.

International donors have pledged billions in civilian aid to Afghanistan, but many have imposed harsh conditions pending progress on ongoing peace talks between the country’s government and the Taliban.

Dozens of foreign nations, international institutions and the European Union took part in a virtual global conference on Tuesday hosted from the Swiss city of Geneva.

But many, including the United States and Germany, have put restrictions on future funding and some have only committed for the next year – aside from the four-year commitments made in the past.

“We are delighted to pledge $ 300 million today … with the remaining $ 300 million we have to review progress in the peace process,” said US Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale in a virtual address to the conference.

The US, which invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to persecute the Taliban, has provided around US $ 800 million in civilian aid a year over the past few years.

Another top donor, Germany, pledged € 430 million ($ 511 million) in 2021, signaling that it would make another contribution by 2024, but also stressed that progress was needed in ending the nearly 20-year war .

The Taliban and the Afghan government have been holding talks in Qatar’s capital Doha since September. The historical discussions were quickly blocked by disputes on the agenda, the framework of the discussions, and religious interpretations.

However, Hale said that “significant progress” had been made recently, including a tentative agreement on ground rules that could allow negotiators to move on to the next stage of agenda-setting.

However, increased levels of violence in the country seem to represent a different reality in terms of progress.

The attacks on Afghan forces and civilians were 50 percent higher in the three months to the end of September compared to the previous quarter, said the US Special Inspector General for Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) in his quarterly report to the US Congress on November 5 .

The watchdog reported 2,561 civilian casualties that quarter, including 876 deaths, up 43 percent from April through June.

During the four-year donor conference, two explosions struck an open-air market in downtown Bamiyan, usually considered one of the safest areas in Afghanistan. At least 14 people were killed and 45, mostly civilians, injured. There was no direct claim to responsibility.

In the run-up to the conference, diplomats reckoned that Afghanistan could receive 15 to 20 percent less funding than the roughly 15.2 billion US dollars pledged at the last conference in Brussels in 2016, due to uncertainties about the peace process and it hard to get commitments from governments financially struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Uncertainty about whether the compromises needed for peace could lead to a relapse in human and women’s rights has also made some countries concerned about making long-term commitments to an Afghan government that needs foreign money for about three-quarters of theirs To cover expenses.

The EU reaffirmed its solidarity and partnership with the people of Afghanistan and pledged EUR 1.2 billion in support at the Afghanistan conference.
We would like to help build a sovereign, unified and democratic Afghanistan on the way to prosperity and independence. Http: //

– Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) November 24, 2020

The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros (1.43 billion US dollars) over four years on Tuesday, but emphasized that the aid was subject to conditions.

“The future development of Afghanistan must preserve the democratic and human rights achievements since 2001, particularly with regard to the rights of women and children,” said EU foreign policy expert Josep Borrell.

“Any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our political and financial commitment,” he added, referring to the Taliban’s former hardline rule between 1996 and 2001.

Conference organizers said curbing corruption was another desire by countries to consider donations. Some like the UK announced pledges for just one year.

The UK said it would pledge $ 227 million annually for civil and food aid.

France has pledged € 88 million and Canada € 270 million (US $ 206.7 million).

Comments are closed.