Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

World donors offer £10bn Afghan aid

Afghan president Hamid Karzai at the international conference on civilian assistance for his country in Tokyo (AP)
Afghan president Hamid Karzai at the international conference on civilian assistance for his country in Tokyo (AP)

International donors have pledged more than £10 billion in badly-needed development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years when most foreign troops will leave, as President Hamid Karzai urged the international community not to abandon his country.

The major donors' conference in Tokyo, Japan, attended by about 70 countries and organisations, is aimed at setting aid levels for the crucial period through to and beyond 2014, when most Nato-led foreign combat troops will leave and the war-torn country will assume responsibility for most of its own security.

"I request Afghanistan's friends and partners to reassure the Afghan people that you will be with us," Mr Karzai said in his opening statement.

Japanese foreign minister and US officials travelling with secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the donors had made 16 billion dollars available through to 2015, which would be in line with the nearly four billion dollars a year that the Japanese co-hosts had said they were hoping to achieve during the one-day conference.

Japan, the second-largest donor, says it will provide up to three billion through 2016, and Germany has announced it will keep its contribution to rebuilding and development at its current level of 536 million dollars a year, at least until 2016.

But the donors are also expected to set up review and monitoring measures to assure the aid is used for development and not wasted by corruption or mismanagement. "We have to face harsh realities filled with difficulties,'" said Japan's prime minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Afghanistan has received nearly 60 billion dollars (£39bn) in civilian aid since 2002. The World Bank says foreign aid makes up nearly the equivalent of the country's gross domestic product.

The aid is intended to provide a stabilising factor as Afghanistan transitions to greater independence from international involvement but will come with conditions.

The pledges are expected to establish a road map of accountability to ensure that Afghanistan does more to improve governance and finance management, and to safeguard the democratic process, rule of law and human rights - especially those of women.

Mr Karzai vowed to "fight corruption with strong resolve". But he still faces international weariness with the war and frustration over his failure to crack down on corruption.

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