The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr William Hague: I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the thirty-fifth progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
On 2 February, the presidential election campaign opened. Seven of 11 candidates formally launched their campaigns on the first day, with only one choosing to do so from outside Kabul. The remaining candidates began their campaigns in the following days.
On the 8 February, the UN reported a 14% rise in the number of civilians killed or injured in 2013. The report considered armed opposition groups responsible for the majority (74%) and Afghan and international forces for 11% of casualties in 2013. 10% of casualties resulted from engagements between pro and anti-government forces while the remaining 5% were unattributed.
On 13 February, the Government of Afghanistan released 65 US captured detainees who the US believed to have committed serious crimes, including killing US soldiers, and against whom the US thought there was good evidence.
On 27 February NATO Defence Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to support continued planning for a post-2014 training mission in Afghanistan. Defence Ministers also tasked NATO Military Authorities to assess the implications of delays to the future mission and to undertake planning for other contingencies, including a ‘zero option’, in light of the uncertainty of securing the necessary legal permissions for the mission.
UK development support of £5.3m was provided to improve public services in Helmand, Uruzgan and Bamyan provinces through DFID’s Strengthening Provincial Administration and Delivery (SPAD) programme. The funds help build capacity in local systems whilst ensuring the money is properly spent to help local authorities provide better public services to local people.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the gov.uk website.
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