COWEN MAKES THREE-YEAR AID COMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN IN TOKYO
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, TD, has announced that Ireland will contribute € 12 million over the next three years to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. In addition, there will be continuing financial support to address the country's humanitarian needs. Total aid to Afghanistan this year will probably exceed the € 5.08 million contributed last year.
The Minister is representing the Government at the Conference on the Reconstruction of Afghanistan in Tokyo. Among those attending the conference are the UN Secretary General, the US Secretary of State, and the Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority. The sum pledged will go towards the reconstruction of schools and hospitals, water and sanitation systems, bridges, roads, natural resource management, agriculture and other needs. Part of it will be contributed to a trust fund which will is to be administered by the World Bank and other international agencies while another part will go to a fund to help with the short-term costs of the Interim Authority in Afghanistan. A substantial portion will be channelled through NGOs and multilateral organizations.
Commenting on the pledge of €12 million, the Minister said that it is a tangible expression of Ireland's solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and our determination to support the process of rebuilding the country and ensuring lasting peace and stability there.
“ The challenges facing the Afghan people at the present time are enormous”, the Minister commented. “Unimaginable devastation and suffering have been caused by two decades of conflict and three years of drought even before the recent events. With the conclusion of the Bonn Agreement and the establishment of the Interim Authority, there is an opportunity to put Afghanistan on the road towards recovery and reconstruction over the medium term. The international community must grasp this opportunity firmly”.
Ireland, the Minister continued, will play its full part in this process.
“ We share the common goal of rebuilding Afghanistan in a way that promotes economic and social development as well as human rights and equality. The task is daunting and will require long-term engagement by the international community working closely with the Afghan people”.
There is also a continuing need for emergency and humanitarian assistance which must not be lost sight of as the task of reconstruction gets underway.
The Minister paid tribute to the Irish, Afghan and international aid workers whom Ireland aid has been supporting and who continued their humanitarian work despite all the dangers of the recent crisis.
Their courage, he said, “ sustained the hopes of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people and provided the foundation on which a major international reconstruction effort can now be built.”Top