Greens aid and development spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has urged the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to publicly commit to continuing Australia’s aid program to Afghanistan following today’s report of a possible wind down of assistance to that country. (AFR page 1)
“After more than a decade of war and destruction of infrastructure and the associated social dislocation, any reduction in Australian aid to Afghanistan would bring hardship, suffering and a setback for women,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“Minister Bishop has a responsibility to clarify what the Coalition government’s position on foreign aid to Afghanistan is"
“It has been widely recognised that after more than a decade of war, overseas aid was set to become more critical for Afghan’s future.
“The Comprehensive Partnership Agreement and a Development Framework Agreement signed by Australia and Afghanistan in 2012 set out the role of our aid programs.
“Also Australia played a significant role in developing the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework for a long term partnership between the Afghan Government and the international community in the decade from 2014 when foreign troops are due to leave.
“Australia should not turn its back on all this work.
“The war in Afghanistan has resulted in enormous suffering. If aid is cut, improvements in poverty alleviation, girls’ schooling, life expectancy, democratic participation and other key development indicators will most likely be lost.
“Social and education standards in Afghanistan are some of the lowest in the world.
“As Afghanistan emerges from decades of war Australia should not further penalise the nation’s people because of the Coalition’s selfish policy to cut foreign aid.
“Afghanistan is one of the world’s most foreign aid-dependent countries. A post-war situation is not the time to cut aid.
“The Foreign Minister should stand up for a continuation of aid programs, that currently run at about $180 million a year to Afghanistan,” Senator Rhiannon said.
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