More than $15 billion has been raised by over 70 international governments to fund Afghanistan until 2020.
The world powers, led by the United States and the European Union, pledged the investment in the interests of global security.
A decade after US forces aided the expulsion of Taliban militants from Kabul, the city is facing a renascent Taliban. The donor conference in Brussels articulated a growing acceptance of ongoing US-led coalition involvement in Afghanistan.
“The war for the future is being fought in Asia. We must stand our ground in Afghanistan,” said India’s deputy foreign minister, M.J. Akbar, Reuters reported.
World powers raised $15 billion for Afghanistan on Wednesday to fund the country over the next four years, while the European Union said it will revive a blocked peace process after 40 years of conflict.
The large sum will require Afghanistan to agree to an array of political, economic and social reforms. Controversially, the European Union seeks to send Afghan nationals whose asylum requests fail back to Kabul, despite stating that their EU donation is unrelated to the aid being sent to Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that Federica Mogherini, representative of the European Union foreign affairs and security said, “there is never, ever a link between our development aid and whatever we do on migration.”
The conference prompted hundreds of protesters, mainly of Shi’ite Hazara minority, to voice their concern at the agreement pressuring Kabul to accept Afghan citizens. In 2015, approximately 213,000 Afghans arrived in Europe. 50 to 60 per cent of the asylum requests in 2015 were denied, which leaves thousands of refugees who may be forced to return to Afghanistan.
Protesters and rights groups have argued that Kabul is still subject to frequent terrorist attacks and faces an expanding Taliban insurgency, while European governments insist that many parts of Afghanistan are safe. Protester Ali Reza held a banner outside the conference that said: “We Will Not Go Back.”
European governments are juggling increasing opposition from their constituents amidst growing hostility towards immigration. “I hope that the newly signed repatriation agreement with Afghanistan will be implemented in practice,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. – Sinead Fogarty