Donor Countries Pledged Billions in Aid to Afghanistan in Geneva Conference

The international community on Tuesday pledged another four years of aid for Afghanistan, despite the Covid-19 crisis.

At a global donor conference in Geneva, countries began reaffirming their commitment to propping up a country beset by violence between the Taliban and government forces, rampant corruption and an imminent withdrawal of US troops.

Summing up the mood of the Geneva conference, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto of co-hosts Finland said the 66 nations and 32 international organisations involved would strike a conclusion with “strong support” for a “permanent and comprehensive peace”.

The ongoing peace talks in Doha were uppermost in donors’ minds and “respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality are pre-requisite for future cooperation”, Haavisto added.

There are fears that aid pledges may be lower than when the last event was held four years ago – which raised $15.2 billion – as governments struggle financially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has conceded that the money given may be less in 2020 but said funds were critical to future growth.

“Despite our suffering, I want to be very clear that our commitment to negotiations with the Taliban remains firm … we must bring an end to the violence that is haunting our lives and robbing our children of the joys of childhood,” he told the virtual conference.

Deborah Lyons, head of the UN’s mission to Afghanistan, said Afghans needed ongoing political, financial and technical support from the international community.
“Now is not the time to walk away,” she added.

The European Union has pledged €1.2 billion ($1.42bn) in support to Afghanistan over the next four years but its chief diplomat warned that a return to the Taliban’s hard-line rule would damage any future financial and political engagement.

The UK, which also sent its troops to Afghanistan in 2001 and has given significant funds to the country, pledged £155m ($206.7m). It said continued funding would be “closely linked” to the peace process, progress on reducing poverty and protecting human rights.

The Swiss contribution, which will amount to CHF104 million up to 2024, is earmarked for projects to promote the rule of law, agriculture, and education.

India announced a new phase of over 100 high-impact community projects in Afghanistan worth USD 80 million (Rs 592 crore) as the country’s development portfolio in the war-ravaged nation has reached.

Karina Gould, Canada’s Minister of International Development pledged $270 million for the next years to Afghanistan.

The Netherlands pledged up to 200 million euros for Afghanistan for the period 2021-2024.

Denmark pledges 64 million US dollars for Afghanistan subject to parliamentary approval.

Norway pledges around 70 million US dollars in development and humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan.

Australia pledges 200 million Australian dollars ($147 million) to Afghanistan for the next four years.

Italy pledges 35 million euros to Afghanistan for 2021.

Turkey pledges $75 million for Afghanistan for the next two years.

The Czech Republic at the Geneva conference vows to continue its $1.8 million annual pledge to Afghanistan.

Indonesia at the Geneva conference pledges $5 million aid to Afghanistan for the next three years.

The conference hosts underlined that the gains made over the last 19 years must be secured, namely democracy, the rule of law and human rights — notably those of women, minorities and children.

Donor nations meet every four years to pledge aid to Afghanistan, which is almost entirely reliant on foreign assistance despite years of promised reforms and attempts to grow the economy.

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