EU Releases €140 million to Support Afghan People, Particularly Girls and Women
The European Union has agreed to release €140 million of basic needs and livelihoods assistance in the fields of education, health, agriculture and women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan. The decision to release funds, previously frozen since December 2022 in response to the Taliban’s decision to ban women from working in NGOs, comes after six months of monitoring and assessment of the “for women by women” principle. This principle ensures that Afghan girls and women are involved in all aspects of the aid delivery chain.
The EU funds will continue to be directed through UN agencies, the World Bank and International Non-Governmental Organisations working on the ground. The financial support aims to provide basic needs assistance to the Afghan people.
Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking earlier this month said that human rights in Afghanistan were in a state of collapse, acutely affecting the lives of millions of women, men, girls and boys. He said the country has plunged into a grave humanitarian and economic crisis, with two thirds of the population now in need of assistance.
The decision from the EU Commission follows the agreement in the Foreign Affairs Council in February 2023 for a principled approach for EU assistance, allowing for the continuation solely in sectors and geographic areas where women are allowed to work on the delivery of the assistance and benefit from it.
Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships said, ‘We know how difficult it has been to navigate the increasingly severe situation in Afghanistan. Yet, over the last six months the international community has found a way to deliver desperately needed support to women, girls, and other vulnerable groups. This support offers livelihood solutions for millions, while not recognising the Taliban de facto authorities.’
The EU is mobilising the funding to support new projects such as the support to a conducive learning environment for both boys and girls, and to improve and incentivise access to school through food assistance. On health, the funds will help with strengthening basic health services, infectious diseases, safe drinking water, improving nutrition amongst children and enhancing household food security and resilience.
Work will also be done on sustainable agricultural value chains, climate resilience and help for the return and reintegration of Afghan refugees coming back from neighbouring countries.
The support will also reinforce women’s economic empowerment through skills development, access to finance, market opportunities, economic resilience and supporting women-led small enterprises.
The EU is currently co-chairing the Afghanistan Coordination Group together with the UN and World Bank and there will be continued and close monitoring of the application of the “for women by women” principle.