Prime Minister Erna Solberg indicated at the NATO Summit in Brussels that Norway is willing to support the continued operation of the field hospital in Kabul until the end of 2021, after NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. This will be important to ensure continued diplomatic and civilian presence in Kabul. Norway also aims to work together with other allies to help train Afghan armed forces outside Afghanistan.
NATO is terminating its military presence in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of forces has already begun.
‘Right now, the situation in Afghanistan is fragile. Norway has agreed to extend operation of the field hospital during a transitional period, until a civilian hospital has been established,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Norway is willing to extend running the field hospital on certain conditions: the security of hospital staff must be safeguarded, and there must be an invitation to Norway from the Afghan authorities to provide the necessary legal basis.
Another important condition is that other countries maintain their staffing levels at the hospital or that others participate in carrying out various functions at the hospital. Norway has indicated it could help to run the facility until the end of the year, but not beyond the first quarter of 2022.
‘The field hospital is a key part of our diplomatic and civilian presence in Kabul. It is vital for ensuring that Norway and the rest of the international community can continue to provide humanitarian help and development aid, and support the peace process in Afghanistan,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The security situation in Afghanistan is challenging and complex.
‘The Afghan authorities are in the middle of a critical and difficult phase. Although we are concluding military operations in the country, Norway aims to help train Afghan forces outside Afghanistan under the auspices of NATO, and, in this way, assist them in ensuring security in their own country,’ said Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen.
The final decision on whether Norway will support the training of Afghan forces outside Afghanistan is pending clarification from NATO on how this training will be organised. A number of practical and legal issues must be clarified.