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Humanitarian projects Swiss renew aid funding pledge to Afghanistan

Fierce gun battles have played out around Kunduz in recent days


Switzerland will continue funding humanitarian projects in Afghanistan to the tune of CHF26 million ($26.6 million) per year until 2020, a conference in Brussels was told.

Thomas Greminger, head of the Swiss delegation to the international conference on Afghanistan hosted by the European Union, said the money would be spent in two broad areas: inclusive governance and human rights, and sustainable socio-economic development.

The Swiss development programme is targeted at the most vulnerable citizens in the areas of protection, health and food security.

“With a labour-based infrastructure project, Switzerland contributes to job creation and improved livelihoods of the rural poor,” read a government press release.

“The project creates predictable income and rehabilitates vital rural infrastructure, ensuring access to services and markets. Therefore, the Swiss engagement in the region aims at building perspectives for Afghan women and men to develop their potential in their own country.”

The Brussels conference aimed to raise some $3 billion in annual international aid from around 70 countries until 2020. In 2012, countries pledged some $4 billion a year.

This time around the EU is contributing $1.3 billion a year. In return, Afghanistan is expected to agree to take back citizens who failed asylum requests in other countries.

Part of the Swiss contribution will also be allocated for the support of civil society organisations.

Switzerland said it is “considering short-term allocations for humanitarian assistance” on top of its annual cash pledge to address the “dramatic situation caused by the swift return of hundreds of thousands of Afghans from neighbouring countries in the last months”.

Armed clashes and serious security alarms are still occurring in Afghanistan 15 years after the Taliban was toppled. Militants came close to capturing the northern city of Kunduz last week, a year after overrunning it for a brief period.

“Regarding the deterioration of the security situation in the country, Switzerland encourages all actors involved to aim for an inclusive process of civil conflict transformation, in order to lay the ground for sustainable peace and development in Afghanistan,” the Swiss press release stated.

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