World renews aid for Afghanistan with strings attached

Geneva: The international community on Tuesday pledged another four years of aid for Afghanistan, despite the Covid-19 crisis, but tied its money to rights being upheld in stuttering peace talks with the Taliban.

At a global donor conference in Geneva, countries began reaffirming their commitment to propping up a country beset by violence between the Taliban and government forces, rampant corruption and an imminent withdrawal of US troops.

Deborah Lyons, the UN special envoy for Afghanistan said the world had come together to express "emphatic support... when Afghanistan begins to turn that critical corner toward peace".

Donor nations meet every four years to pledge aid to Afghanistan, which is almost entirely reliant on foreign assistance despite years of promised reforms and attempts to grow the economy.

The conference hosts underlined that the gains made over the last 19 years must be secured, namely democracy, the rule of law and human rights -- notably those of women, minorities and children.

"In spite of the fact that we are seeing very strong pledging... this money does not come freely," said Lyons, summing up the conference so far.

"It comes with conditions that the money will be well-spent and the government will be held accountable."

The conference was also issuing "a strong call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire", she added, saying that the donations showed that peace was not only possible but was being actively supported by the global community. - AFP