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Afghanistan: Future at risk if development not prioritised

The international community must make long-term development commitments to Afghanistan or it risk gains being lost, warns Andrew Mitchell

International Development Secretary warns that the international community must make long-term development commitments to Afghanistan or risk gains being lost.

The international community must make long-term development commitments to Afghanistan or risk gains being lost, International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, warned today on his return from a two-day visit to Helmand and Kabul.

Speaking days before he heads the British delegation at the donor conference in Tokyo on the 08 July, he underscored the UK’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan, setting out plans for UK development support up to 2017 and pledging that Britain would maintain its current funding levels of £178 million a year for the next five years. He indicated that Britain would continue to support Afghanistan through a ‘transformation decade’ up to 2025, as long as the Afghan government continues to deliver reforms.

Mr Mitchell cautioned that without similar long term commitments from all of Afghanistan’s international partners, the country’s future will be at risk. He called on Afghanistan’s partners in the US, Japan, Europe and others elsewhere to follow the UK’s lead and make concrete commitments at or near current levels until at least 2017.

He also made clear that in return, the Afghan Government must make credible progress with key economic and governance reforms. This includes stepping up efforts to fight corruption, cleaning up the Kabul Bank fraud, promoting women’s rights, encouraging private investment and regional integration, and preparing for elections in 2014. With reform and strong international support, Afghanistan will be able to finance its budget and meet the critical security, health, education and economic needs of its people.

Whilst in Afghanistan, the Development Secretary met with President Karzai and senior Afghan ministers to discuss progress on these key areas. He welcomed plans to hold ministerial meetings every two years with the Afghan Government over the coming decade to review mutual commitments.

Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

“Afghanistan faces enormous challenges in the years ahead, and will require significant long term international development assistance. If that is not forthcoming, the progress on security and development that I have seen for myself in areas like Helmand will be put at risk. This will have repercussions for Afghans, the region and us. The UK has set out its commitment to development support for Afghanistan up to 2017. Now other donors must do the same.”

“During my visit, I emphasised to President Karzai and Afghan Ministers that the Tokyo Conference presents the opportunity for a long term bargain between the international community and Afghanistan to deepen reform and build on the hard won gains secured through the bravery of our armed forces.”

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