Finland alleviates Afghans’ distress
Finland’s bilateral development cooperation with Afghanistan will remain suspended, but funds will be channelled to humanitarian activities and to responding to people’s basic needs. Finland’s support is delivered through the UN and civil society organisations and it will not fall in the hands of or support the Taliban. A new temporary policy line has been adopted by Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
The UN has estimated that Afghanistan will be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 2022. The need for assistance is more than EUR 7 billion. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that up to 97 per cent of people in Afghanistan will live in poverty by the middle of 2022. Socio-economic and basic services in the country are on the verge of a collapse, which increases human distress, suffering and social instability.
Responding to such human basic needs as nutrition, security and livelihood requires not only humanitarian assistance but also other measures. Therefore, Finland is prepared to provide controlled, carefully targeted and selected assistance to Afghans via the UN and civil society organisations. Traditional intergovernmental development cooperation will remain suspended because Finland does not recognise the Taliban administration. In other words, Finland takes care that its support does not fall in the hands of or support the Taliban. The decision on a temporary policy for 2022 was made by Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
“The scale of humanitarian distress in Afghanistan is immense. Together with the international community, we must do our utmost to alleviate it. Finland’s support is targeted at safeguarding people’s survival and basic needs and on defending human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, during the crisis,” Minister Skinnari says.
According to the policy, Finland will support international actors and civil society organisations that are capable of sustaining their operations in the country and that are committed to jointly agreed principles and policies. Finland will continue to support its long-term partner organisations such as UN Women and MSI Reproductive Choices in Afghanistan. Funds from the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) will be redirected, for example, to the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In addition, EUR 4.9 million of funding originally allocated to Finland’s long-term development cooperation has now been directed to humanitarian food aid (WFP). In late autumn, Finland tripled the amount of its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, which was planned at the beginning of 2021.
The objectives of the temporary policy coincide with the plans and actions of Finland’s close partners, including the EU. Afghans in an extremely vulnerable situation need help and the international community is working together to find ways to alleviate the situation.
Veikko Kiljunen, Director, Unit for South Asia, tel. +358 295 350 101
Arben Sejdaj, Programme Officer, Unit for South Asia, +358 295 350 813
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format [email protected].