News story | Date: 18/01/2022 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Norwegian delegation is in Kabul for talks with the Taliban, the UN and representatives of Afghan civil society about the serious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
‘We are extremely concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan people are contending with drought, a pandemic, an economic collapse and the effects of years of conflict. There is a real risk that society may collapse, which will have enormous consequences for the Afghan civilian population,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
This is the first visit by a Norwegian delegation to Kabul since the Norwegian Embassy was temporarily closed in August 2021. The delegation is headed by Ambassador Ole A. Lindeman.
‘These talks do not imply a change in Norwegian policy. All Norwegian aid to the Afghan authorities has been stopped. Norwegian support to Afghanistan is targeted towards covering the basic needs of the civilian population and is channelled through the UN and NGOs, in addition to substantial humanitarian assistance, said Ms Huitfeldt.
Some 24 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. One million children could die of starvation. According to UN estimates, more than half the population will be facing famine this winter, and 97 % of the population could fall below the poverty line this year.
‘This is Norway's first meeting in Kabul in six months. It is important to have contact with the Taliban and other communities within the country if we are to continue to provide support to the Afghan people. We have stated explicitly in our talks with the Taliban in Kabul that Norway has clear expectations regarding respect for human rights and the right of women and girls to participate in society,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
One of the key principles underpinning Norway's peace and reconciliation efforts is the willingness to talk to all parties. Norway has been in dialogue with the Taliban for many years.
‘It is important that the international community calls on the Taliban to accept sustainable political solutions and respect human rights. We need dialogue in order to strengthen our humanitarian and economic efforts in Afghanistan in support of the Afghan people,’ said Foreign Minister Huitfeldt.