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EU releases €140 million to support Afghan women and girls

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EU releases €140 million to support Afghan women and girls
The support will also reinforce women's economic empowerment through skills development | Photo: Wanman uthmaniyyah

The European Union has agreed this week 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 in the wake of the worrying challenges they face in the country.

The decision 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.

The EU is mobilising this 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.

Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

“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.”, says Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

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.

The €140 million for basic needs and livelihoods are part of the overall €1 billion Support Package for the Afghan people announced by the EU in August 2021. The EU has mobilised €980 million of the €1 billion: €500 million for basic needs and livelihoods and €480 million for humanitarian assistance.

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