Norway to increase support for civilians in Afghanistan

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‘Afghanistan is facing enormous political and humanitarian challenges. The situation for children is particularly grave. Norway will provide NOK 700 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in 2022,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt. No support provided by Norway will go to the Taliban regime.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is alarming and the Afghan people are in need of support from the international community. Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt is representing Norway at the High-level Pledging Event on Supporting the Humanitarian Response in Afghanistan on 31 March. The meeting is being convened by the UN and co-hosted by the UK, Germany, and Qatar. The meeting will take place on a digital platform.

­‘The war in Ukraine is demanding a great deal of attention and resources, but we must not forget the humanitarian crises in other parts of the world. This applies in particular to Afghanistan, where half the population are facing famine and over 90 % of the population are now living under the poverty line,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August of last year, Afghanistan has not had a recognised government that the international community can cooperate with. All Norwegian assistance is therefore being channelled through the UN, the World Bank, and NGOs.

‘Norway will maintain its strong commitment to supporting the Afghan people. In response to the increasing humanitarian needs in the country, Norway will provide NOK 700 million in funding this year for humanitarian efforts and the provision of basic services,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

‘This situation will affect future generations and social development for years to come. We will support the delivery of basic services such as health and education, provided that boys and girls are given equal access. We will also support the livelihoods of Afghan people,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

The primary responsibility for responding to the current acute crisis lies with the de facto authorities. The Taliban must listen to the appeals of the Afghan people and the international community to respect human rights and to establish a more inclusive and representative government.

‘The news that the Taliban’s top leadership have delayed the school start for girls is very disappointing. It is a violation of girls’ rights and a breach of the assurances made by the Taliban previously, for example during their visit to Oslo. We have made it very clear to the Taliban that we expect them to stand by their promise to the Afghan people to allow all girls to attend school,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

At Norway’s initiative, the UN Security Council issued a statement expressing its deep concern regarding the Taliban’s decision to deny girls above the sixth grade access to education and reaffirming the right to education for all Afghans, including girls. The human rights situation in other areas, such as women’s rights, also gives cause for concern.

‘We cannot simply ignore the needs of people living in dire humanitarian situations. We need to provide essential aid even when we disagree with the regime in the country concerned,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.