European Commission plans €1 billion support package for Afghanistan

European Commission plans €1 billion support package for Afghanistan
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivering the State of the Union speech on 15 September 2021. Credit: EU

The European Commission is putting together a support package for the people of Afghanistan totaling around €1 billion.

The Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the support package during a G20 meeting on Afghanistan, calling it an investment in security and stability.

“We must do all we can to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse in Afghanistan,” said von der Leyen in a statement.

“We need to do it fast. We have been clear about our conditions for any engagement with the Afghan authorities, including on the respect of human rights. So far, the reports speak for themselves. But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban's actions.”

Von der Leyen made clear that the support package is intended for the Afghan people and the country’s neighbours who have been providing them with help.

A statement from the European Commission said that the socio-economic situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, putting hundreds of thousands of Afghans just before the onset of winter.

Humanitarian assistance alone will not be enough to avert famine and a major humanitarian crisis, the statement read in part.

Overall EU development aid to Afghanistan has remained and will continue to remain frozen since the Taliban assumed control of the country’s government. Certain benchmarks agreed upon by EU Foreign Ministers must be met before that sort of development aid can resume. The announcement of the aid package comes on the heels of discussions held by EU Ministers surrounding exactly how to provide direct support to the Afghan population in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, without legitimising the Taliban government currently in control of the country.

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The billion-euro Afghan support package being proposed now combines EU humanitarian aid with the delivery of targeted support to benefit the Afghan people and neighbouring countries. It includes €300 million for humanitarian purposes already agreed upon, along with additional, specialized support for vaccinations, sheltering and the protection of civilians and human rights. Other “safe and legal pathways to protection in the EU include in the short-term the safe passage of Afghans affiliated to the EU and its Member States and vulnerable groups such as human rights defenders, women, journalists, civil society activists, police and law enforcement officials, judges and professionals of the justice system, including their families,” the Commission explained in its press release. The Commission said it will also support Member States that decide to host at-risk Afghans through EU funding for resettlements and humanitarian admission.

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