Afghanistan: Reconstruction

House of Lords written question – answered on 4th May 2004.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the significance of the current situation in Afghanistan in their action against Al'Qaeda; and in this context, what are they now doing, together with their allies, to limit the power of the warlords and to increase aid and assistance for civil reconstruction.

Photo of Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Middle East)

As a result of our efforts with the US and others in Afghanistan, that country is no longer a safe haven for Al'Qaeda (AQ). It is not always easy to distinguish AQ elements from other groups hostile to the current political process in Afghanistan. Extremists are undoubtedly attempting to establish bases there from which to operate, but successful military operations conducted by the coalition and units of the Afghan national army (ANA) are preventing them doing so. AQ operations worldwide have suffered disruption. AQ leadership is dispersed and operating under increasingly difficult conditions. Many key operatives and planners have been detained.

The US-led coalition and NATO have now deployed a total of 12 provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) to help to extend the authority of central government at the expense of regional power-holders. The UK-led PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif helped to broker a ceasefire between two regional commanders in October 2003 and more recently played a key role in preventing factional unrest developing in Faryab Province, where a second UK-led PRT is now being established. The new PRT is already working with ANA and Afghan national police units sent to the area by President Karzai. PRTs have had a demonstrably beneficial effect on security in the areas they cover and this in turn helps to facilitate reconstruction.

On 1 March 2004 my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development announced in his Written Statement (Official Report, Column 74WS) an increase of the UK's commitment, from £200 million over five years to at least £500 million over the same period. This funding is to support a range of reconstruction work, support for conflict prevention, and the counter-narcotics effort. A booklet outlining DfID's programme in Afghanistan has been placed in the Library of the House. International donors demonstrated their commitment to Afghanistan at the Berlin conference held on 31 March to 1 April 2004 by pledging 8.2 billion dollars of assistance over the next three years. This represents two-thirds of Afghanistan's requirements over this period. We hope that the full requirement will be met through more money becoming available from donors that were only able to make one-year pledges in Berlin.

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