1 December 2014 - Large cuts to the Afghanistan aid budget in the wake of troop withdrawals could wreck the huge improvements made in the last decade and threaten a new generation of Afghans to a life of poverty, a meeting of over 200 Afghan and international experts will warn on Wednesday 3 December.
As the UK Prime Minister prepares to hold the London Conference on Afghanistan with the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, a group of international charities, development and human rights organisations are meeting to discuss the future of the country.
On Wednesday the Ayenda Conference (meaning ‘future’ in Dari) is being hosted by BAAG, the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, of which Christian Aid is member, and will bring together Afghan and international development and aid professionals to discuss the key recommendations to the Afghan and international governments. BAAG’s Director Jawad Nader said:
“Afghanistan has made huge strides forward since 2001. Although there is still much to be done, there have been massive improvements in health, education and infrastructure. Life expectancy is up, girls are going to school and for the first time many people have a clinic in their village.
“But we’re worried that if the international community turns its back on Afghanistan as the foreign troops leave, then this progress could stall or even go backwards. We’re urging David Cameron and other world leaders meeting on the 4th December in London to keep up vital aid and development programmes which are bringing real change to Afghanistan. Without this help, the lives of millions of Afghans could be blighted by even worse poverty and suffering.”
The Ayenda Conference will gather ideas on the future of Afghanistan from hundreds of experts, which will be presented to Prime Minister David Cameron and President Ashraf Ghani at the main London Afghanistan Conference on Thursday. They will look at aid, providing health and education services, and improving women’s rights.
Mr Nader said it was vital that the voice of charities and NGOs – almost all of them run or staffed by Afghans – was heard by the leaders. He said:
“Many ordinary Afghans have done tireless work in charities and aid agencies and they know the realities of Afghanistan on the ground. They understand how to help their fellow Afghans. They know what works and what doesn’t. Their expertise must continue to inform policy making at a national level.”
When the Ayenda Conference has agreed its recommendations, a two person delegation will attend the main London Conference on Afghanistan to present their findings to David Cameron, Ashraf Ghani and the other world leaders present.
Ramani Leathard, Christian Aid head of Region, said: “Some of the local Afghan organisations which we support will be present at the conference to make their voices heard, especially on the issue of women’s rights.”
Sakhidad Naseri, of the Relief Organization for Rehabilitation of Afghanistan said: “We have achieved many things such as girls education, freedom of the media and other achievements with the help of the international community.
The CEO and new president of Afghanistan cane overcome the challenges ahead as long as they continue to campaign for the people of Aghanistan and give directions based on democratic values. They need to make space for people from different regions, young people and women in government making policy institutions.”
If you would like further information please on the Ayenda conference or to arrange an interview with one of the Afghan delegates, please contact Jo Rogers on email@example.com and 020 7523 2460. 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
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