Finland has participated in the on-going Afghanistan reconstruction effort since the beginning. A year ago in Tokyo a commitment of assistance amounting to at least 30 million euros for 2002-2004 was promised. In 2002 the yearly target was exceeded as total disbursements were over 13 million euros. In addition Finland participates in the reconstruction with her contingent in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
A third of Finland=B4s development assistance last year was given to the Government of Afghanistan through the established Funds. This support is mainly used for payment of salaries of civil servants, including police and army personnel. The larger than expected return of Afghans to their home country was supported by 4 million euros. With the remaining third Finland supported the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, war victims and mine-clearing, reproductive health clinics and the first post-crisis environmental survey in Afghanistan.
Finland will keep her assistance at the promised level and increase it if possible. Support to the central government budget will continue in 2003, as will our emphasis on the need to enhance especially the situation of women. A major challenge this year will be preparations for the elections foreseen in 2004 which, together with the developing national security structures will enable furthering of stability in Afghanistan. As a new initiative in the security sector in 2003 Finland will participate in the training of national police, starting this spring. It will also be important to assure that independent media and citizens=B4 organisations can freely contribute to a peaceful nation-building towards democracy in Afghanistan.
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