BILLIONS of pounds in international aid have been promised to Afghanistan until 2020, in return for stronger efforts to tackle corruption, and the taking back of failed asylum-seekers from Europe.
More than 70 countries pledged £11.9 billion in aid at the Afghanistan Conference, held in Brussels last week.
“We’re buying four more years for Afghanistan,” the EU special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Franz-Michael Mellbin, said.
The country faces continued deadly violence from resurgent militants, 15 years after the Taliban were ousted.
The Roman Catholic aid agency CAFOD has welcomed the funding commitment, but said that it remained concerned by the numbers of internally displaced people in Afghanistan, and called for the deportation of failed asylum-seekers from Europe to be halted.
The director of CAFOD’s partner in Afghanistan, the Afghan Women’s Educational Centre, Palwasha Hassan, said: “We remain deeply concerned by the crisis facing Afghanistan in responding to the needs of internally displaced persons [IDPs], returnees from Pakistan and Iran, and now the prospect of deportations from Europe, which we believe should be suspended. There are already over one million IDPs who receive little or no help, and nearly 100,000 people pushed back from Pakistan this year alone.”
She was one of ten human-rights activists invited to participate in the conference.
The conference began with an event on women’s empowerment, which was described as “key to the future of the country”.
“Empowering women empowers society as a whole,” the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, said.