Finland in Afghanistan
Finland has temporarily closed its Embassy in Kabul. Following its takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, the Taliban has assumed de facto control of the country. Finland’s bilateral development cooperation with Afghanistan has been suspended, but funding is channelled to humanitarian activities and to efforts to respond to people’s basic needs. Finland provides support through the UN, other international organisations and civil society organisations. Funds are not channelled via the Taliban regime. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan, which respects human rights and upholds the principles of the rule of law, is in the best interests of Finland and the entire international community.
Afghanistan is facing huge challenges, and the deep economic and humanitarian crisis affects the country. Even before the Taliban’s takeover, Afghanistan suffered from a humanitarian crisis caused by prolonged conflicts, poverty, drought-induced crop losses and the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanitarian assistance is essential, but it is not sufficient to meet people’s basic needs.
A great deal has been achieved in the past 20 years with the support of Finland and the international community. The position of women and children in Afghanistan improved: both maternal and child mortality halved, and millions of girls enrolled in school. Women became more active in society. The assistance helped millions of people to get access to healthcare, water supply and sanitation services. There was greater freedom of speech and the operating conditions of the private sector improved. The aim is to safeguard the achievements and the continuity of development also in future, the conditions permitting.
Finland's objectives in Afghanistan
In December 2021, Finland made a decision on a temporary development cooperation policy in Afghanistan. Its implementation depends to a considerable degree on whether the UN and other organisations are able to operate in the country. Finland will continue to alleviate the distress of Afghans not only through humanitarian assistance but also by providing support to meet people’s basic needs and to ensure inclusion and by defending human rights. Finland places particular emphasis on the promotion of the rights of women and girls.
The human rights situation in Afghanistan is very alarming. The rights of women and girls and their position in society, in particular, gives cause for concern. The operation of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which was previously supported by Finland, has been discontinued and many human rights activists have fled the country. It is essential that the UN continue to monitor the human rights situation and that human rights organisations be able to operate in Afghanistan. Finland has traditionally considered it important to promote human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, in Afghanistan.
Finland to suspend development cooperation in Afghanistan (MFA press release 17th August, 2021)