Internally displaced Afghan girls read the Quran at a mosque, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail)

GENEVA - Reuters
Britain pledges US$227 million annual civilian and food aid to Afghanistan

Britain said it will pledge US$227 million in annual civilian and food aid for Afghanistan at a conference on Tuesday (Nov 24) in Geneva where officials from about 70 countries and humanitarian organisations will pledge billions of dollars for the war-torn nation.

Dependent on foreign aid, Afghanistan is at risk of receiving 15 per cent to 20 per cent less funding than it received at the previous donor conference four years ago, diplomats say, as governments are under intense pressure to make savings as they ramp up spending to help their own economies recover from impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Withholding funds at this point, diplomats say, could at least provide foreign governments with some leverage to inject a greater sense of urgency into peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives that began in Qatar in September.

Britain, a country with a long and difficult history of involvement in Afghanistan, is the country's third largest bilateral donor, and the amount being pledged in Geneva will be slightly higher than it pledged at the last donor conference in Brussels four years ago.

The statement issued by the UK Mission to the United Nations and World Trade Organization in Geneva said £155 million (US$207 million) would be pledged to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and "improve access to education and vital infrastructure."

Britain would "also announce an extra £15 million (US$20 million) to the United Nations' World Food Programme" for Afghanistan.

The latest monetary commitment is separate from the £70 million (US$93.32 million) security pledge for Afghan forces for 2021, which Britain announced last month.

In Brussels in 2016, Britain had pledged a total of £750 million for four years, which translated to £187.5 million annually.

At the Brussels conference, Afghanistan obtained total pledges of US$15.2 billion for 2017 to 2020, equivalent to US$3.8 billion a year.

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