Australia provides a further $7 million in aid to Afghanistan
Following a request from Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, the Australian Government will also fund 20 new scholarships for English language, trade and academic training in Australia.
In a meeting with President Karzai today, I underlined Australia's resolve to support Afghanistan in the vital work of defeating the Taliban and establishing a secure and prosperous future. President Karzai conveyed his deep appreciation for Australia's sustained commitment to his country, and the significant contribution this is making. We agreed that significant challenges remain, which will only be overcome with ongoing international support and cooperation.
The additional aid allocation will include $2.5 million for the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which assists the Government of Afghanistan to deliver critical health and education services, and support priority reconstruction programs. The Trust Fund is administered by the World Bank and has been supported by Australia with a total of $33 million in assistance since 2003.
Australia will also provide $2.5 million to the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan. Following decades of conflict, Afghanistan is one of the world's most heavily mined countries. The UN Mine Action Centre is assisting Afghanistan to address the scourge of landmines and unexploded ordnance. Australia's contribution will provide mine risk education as well as assisting survivors recover and reintegrate into their communities.
A further $1 million will be provided to the Asia Foundation to help increase the capability of the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission. We will also provide $1 million to the Asia Development Bank. Our funding will support the Ministry of Finance and strengthen its staff development in areas such as fiscal policy and strategic planning.
In January 2006, Australia pledged $150 million to help strengthen the Government of Afghanistan's ability to provide security; deliver essential services, particularly those that benefit women and children; raise literacy levels; and encourage alternatives to poppy production.
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