Afghanistan + 2 more

European Commission to sign EUR 400 million package for Afghanistan; Afghanistan High Level Strategic Forum

Afghanistan High Level Strategic Forum

Brussels, 14 March 2003 - On Monday 17 March, Chris Patten, Commissioner for External Relations will sign a €400 million package of reconstruction support to Afghanistan for 2003-04. This will ensure that the European Union will continue to exceed its pledge to provide Afghanistan with about €200 million per year over a five year period, and demonstrates the EU's determination to remain committed to Afghanistan. The signing will take place at the Afghanistan High Level Strategic Forum, which the European Commission is co-hosting with the World Bank. The meeting, to be led by the Afghan Government, will bring together donors and multi-lateral organisations to discuss the long term funding requirements, and agree the key development priorities for 2003.

The €400 million reconstruction programme will concentrate on four key areas:

  • Rural development and food security to tackle rural poverty where 80 percent of the population live (€ 103 million) ;

  • Economic infrastructure, including the reconstruction of the Kabul-Jalabad-Torkham road ( € 93 million);

  • Public sector reform, including capacity building within key Government institutions, and continued financial support for the recurrent budget deficit (€ 98 million);

  • Support for the health sector to help reduce infant and maternal mortality by providing a basic healthcare package (€ 25 million);

  • Special measures in 2003 to help tackle opium poppy production ( € 10 million);

The Commission will also engage actively in the some of the key cross-cutting issues that are critical to Afghanistan's future including de-mining, promoting the sustainable return of refugees, support for civil society, and the promotion of human rights, including the role of women.

The Transitional Authority of Afghanistan has fully endorsed the National Indicative Programme. The newly established EC Office in Kabul will ensure we build on the success of our programme in 2002.

The 2002 programme of €280 million has already helped to:

  • Run 291 health clinics around the country. Over 2003 and 2004, the EC will channel support through the government to deliver health services to 3 million people and help to reduce the unacceptably high levels of child and maternal mortality;

  • Run over 450 primary schools as part of the Government's 2002 back to school campaign;

  • Create over 3.5 million man days of work in 2002 and 2003 through the EC's rural recovery, urban rehabilitation and humanitarian programmes. These programmes have enabled Afghans to restart their lives and are injecting cash into the economy to fuel recovery;

  • Re-open the Kabul-Jalabad-Torkham road. Following the emergency repair undertaken by Sweden and the Commission, the travel times on the road have been cut from 6 to 3 hours. Procurement is underway for the full reconstruction scheduled for later this year.

  • Co-finance massive mines clearing operations, removing the threat of injury from 150,000 people, and facilitating the return of an additional 180,000 refugees;

  • Support the restart of government with the return to work of some 17,000 key public sector workers. This financial assistance constitutes roughly 10% of the government's recurrent budget, and includes the return to service of 2,000 teachers and 2,000 doctors and nurses.

  • Clean-up seven cities around Afghanistan preventing diseases like cholera, creating jobs and helping municipalities and communities to start delivering basic services again. Our work has covered Herat, Mazar, Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Bamyan and Ghazni.

  • Promote media and civil society. The EC has financed the first independent newspaper and distribution network in Afghanistan, an independent media centre in Kabul, and other projects to promote civil society and support the role of women.

  • Our humanitarian assistance has helped 23,500 returning refugees to reconstruct their homes in areas recovering from conflict and drought, and helped a further 1.5 million vulnerable Afghans during the inter of 2002/3.

The Afghanistan High-level Strategic Forum

On Monday March 17 the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) will convene the first meeting of the Afghanistan High-level Strategic Forum in Brussels, inviting its key partners: donors and multilateral organisations, to discuss the progress and future vision for state-building in Afghanistan, as well as the long-term funding requirements for reconstruction. The European Commission & the World Bank will host the meeting which will also draw on the discussions and findings of the first meeting of the Consultative Group for Afghanistan at the Afghanistan Development Forum held in Kabul from March 13-14, 2003.

On March 17, the high-level group of donors and political representatives will be presented a summary of Afghan National Budget which has just been passed, discuss implementation arrangements, and mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

This forum will be looking at the finance needs for this budget and for the longer term reconstruction of Afghanistan, with discussions on the broader strategic priorities of state-building projects for the country.

Media Arrangements

The Media is invited to the following events:

09h00-09h30: Tour de Table - Opening statements: Dr Ghani, GoA Minister of Finance; Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations; Mieko Nishimizu VP, South Asia Region, World Bank

Venue: European Commission, Centre Borschette Room OA, rue Froissart, 36, 1040 Brussels

Please come to the security desk in the Centre Borschette lobby from 08h45 to collect a special press pass

16h00: Press Conference

Venue: European Commission, Centre Borshette, rue Froissart 36, 1040 Brussels

Please come to the press desk in the Centre Borschette lobby from 15h45

N.B. Members of the Media, who are not accredited to the Commission, and who wish to attend any of the media events, need to apply for temporary accreditation. Please send your request no later than Friday March 14, with a photocopy of your press card, to Fax: +32.2.2967912.

To attend the Donor co-ordination meeting opening remarks and the press conference ALL media need to register and to collect special passes on Monday March 17 from the press desk in the Centre Borchette lobby (at 08h45). Access will be granted to the opening remarks, after which all journalists are requested to leave the building and return their special pass. Journalists will be allowed to re-enter into the Centre Borschette building from 15h.45, for the Press Conference to be held at 16h00.

Government of Afghanistan contact:

National Indicative Programme (M €)1
Pillar 1: Human and Social Capital
Social protection, human rights, civil society and media
Repatriation of refugees (JAI)
Enhancing sustainability of all refugee returns3
Rural development & food security4
Additional initiative to combat drugs5
Pillar 2: Physical Infrastructure
Economic Infrastructure
Pillar 3: Public administration and security.
Public administration - capacity building and reform
Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund / Law and Order Trust Fund
Regional Cooperation
Other pilots, TA and contingency
Total reconstruction and recovery
Total humanitarian and reconstruction aid

1 Subject to yearly approval of funds by the budgetary authority.

2 Appropriations from the budget article B7-667 Cooperation with third countries on migration for assisting a European wide initiative for the return of Europe based Afghan refugees.

3 Currently under consideration, to be confirmed by February 2003.

4 For 2003, this includes a contribution of € 35 million from the Food Security budget article (traditional nomenclature B7-300). For 2004, this includes a minimum contribution of €20 million from the Food Security budget article (B7 305).

5 Currently under consideration, to be confirmed by February 2003.

6 The 2002 Emergency Aid Reserve in Heading 6, which is mobilised for external assistance according to the provision point 23 (c), in the IIA of 6 May 1999.

7 Obviously, it is not possible to programme humanitarian assistance, and this figure is not a commitment. Nonetheless, we would expect about € 45 million to be spent on refugees and IDPs inside Afghanistan in 2003, with a further € 10 mn on Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan.