International aid organisations are currently issuing almost-daily warnings about the rapidly increasing numbers of people in Afghanistan and the region who will be reliant on food aid and humanitarian aid. As a result, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg are working on an emergency aid package for the region that will include another 15 million euros in addition to the €3 million previously promised from the foreign disaster fund (AKF) for Afghanistan. Furthermore, an international donor conference for Afghanistan is to be held as soon as possible.
The recent events during the takeover by the radical Islamic Taliban are dramatic. We are prepared to massively increase our contribution to support on-site aid. Therefore, we are working with the Foreign Ministry to create another emergency aid package for a total of 18 million euros. This aid package will primarily benefit organisations that work on behalf of women in the region, for instance UN Women. The order of the day is to provide stability and aid for refugees in Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries. Thus, it is also urgently necessary to convene a UN donor conference as quickly as possible. This will allow us to provide assistance where it is most needed, namely on site, and help prevent new streams of refugees into Europe, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Afghanistan is currently at the epicentre of international attention – the situation is dramatic. Neither Austria nor the European Union can solve this crisis alone. We need the UN as an engine to bring together all of the relevant international and regional actors. Equality and support for women is a core tenet of Austria’s foreign policy. In fact, more than three-quarters of all Austrian development aid projects are working to support women. Last year alone, a total of more than 80 million euros was provided for projects in the area of gender equality. Particularly given the precarious situation facing women and girls under Taliban rule, we will massively increase our commitment in the region, said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Kurz and Schallenberg also mentioned the port explosion in Beirut a year ago, which was followed by an initial donor conference less than a week later. In light of the situation in Afghanistan and the constantly growing need for aid, the Chancellor and Foreign Minister believe it is urgently necessary for the United Nations to organise another such donor conference as soon as possible.
The people of Afghanistan are already suffering due to decades of conflict. According to UNHCR, nearly half of the population, more than 18 million people, are dependent on humanitarian aid. Nearly three million Afghans have been displaced within their own country, and another 2.5 million Afghans have fled to other countries. According to the Austrian government, it is to be feared that these numbers will continue to rise over the next weeks and months. In the last four years, Austria has already provided more than 11 million euros for humanitarian aid and development projects in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
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