The Finnish government announced on Tuesday the imminent suspension of development cooperation in Afghanistan.
According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the conditions for further development cooperation and the forms it will take will be assessed together with the international community and development cooperation organisations as the situation in Afghanistan becomes clearer.
Afghanistan has been Finland’s most significant partner country for development cooperation in recent years.
Finland’s support for humanitarian aid, the work of international organisations and mine clearance has amounted to around 30 million euros per year. Government says assistance is still very much needed, but the conditions for providing it have changed.
“We have to see how the situation develops. That said, Finland is not abandoning the Afghan people, its children, women, men, journalists, doctors, deminers or human rights fighters,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
Finland’s support has mainly been channelled through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund administered by the World Bank and through UN organisations such as UN Women, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UNICEF.
Assistance has also been delivered through Finnish and international civil society organisations.
3 million euros this year
This year, Finland has helped to protect civilian lives in Afghanistan by providing a total of 3 million euros in humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Thanks to the long-term support of Finland and the international community, Afghanistan now has more educated and healthier citizens than if we had not been involved in development cooperation in the country. This work is not going anywhere,” says Minister Skinnari.
“Our objective, together with our international partners, is to protect what we have already achieved. Finland requires its partners to respect human rights,” Minister Skinnari continues.
In recent years, Afghanistan has seen the most significant progress in the education and health sectors.
The position of women and children in Afghanistan has improved: maternal and child mortality have been halved, and millions of girls have been enrolled in school. Improvements have also been made with regard to freedom of expression and the operating conditions for the private sector.