KABUL (TCA) — The international community pledged $3 billion in development support for Afghanistan in 2021, and a total of some $12 billion for four years, but conditioned the funds on upholding human rights in the war-torn country amid faltering peace talks with the Taliban, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.
The pledges were made at a donor conference on November 24, co-hosted by Finland in Geneva and attended online by many of the participants.
Ville Skinnari, Finland's minister for development cooperation and foreign trade, said donors had pledged $3 billion for next year, with annual commitments expected to continue at the same level, adding, "This would amount to $12 billion over until 2024."
The figure represents a drop from $15.2 billion pledged in 2016 at the previous donor conference in Brussels.
A total of 66 nations and 32 international organizations attended the conference voicing "strong support" for a "permanent and comprehensive peace," said co-organizer Finland.
The conference was held amid a complex situation in Afghanistan, 19 years after an international coalition led by the United States toppled the Taliban government that supported Al-Qaeda.
Taliban militants and the Afghan government are currently involved in peace talks in Qatar, and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that another 2,000 U.S. troops will exit Afghanistan by January 15 — less than a week before Joe Biden is set to take over as president — leaving just 2,500 behind.
Some $600 million out of the total was pledged by the United States for humanitarian aid to civilians next year, half of it conditional on the peace talks with the Taliban.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that choices made in peace talks will affect the size and scope of future international support to Afghanistan, and that Washington would review progress in a year's time.
Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar welcomed the new level of support, noting that it comes as countries are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. "That represents enormous generosity," Atmar said.
“Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards women’s and children’s rights,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after the European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in assistance over the next four years.
"Any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our political and financial engagement,” he added.
Britain, the Netherlands, and Canada also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pledges for Afghanistan as the session got under way.