EU launches €268.3m projects in support of Afghans

KABUL (Pajhwok): Amid a major humanitarian crisis Afghanistan, the European Union (EU) has launched projects worth €268.3 million, stepping up support to the Afghan population. The EU support focuses on maintaining education, sustaining livelihoods and protecting public health, including for refugees, migrants and internally displaced people.
Channeled through UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNHCR, WHO and IOM, the UE support benefits the Afghan population directly. A statement from European Commission said two of the projects supported human rights defenders and civil society organisations. Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “Leaving no one behind is a key principle of the EU’s engagement in the world.”
She added: “Today, we are demonstrating what we have said many times: we will not abandon the Afghan people. “ The Finnish politician voiced her pleasure over addressing basic human needs and supporting livelihoods under the clear parameters set out by the Foreign Affairs Council. According to her, the projects focus on health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and education, in particular for women and girls.
She added the EU was also supporting income-generating activities, food security and local markets in Afghanistan. Seven EU projects, worth €186 million, support health, education and livelihoods for Afghans and will be implemented through UNICEF, UNDP, WHO and WFP. Emergency cash support to teachers to sustain children’s learning in public schools – This €50 million project implemented by UNICEF will provide the around 194,000 public teachers nationwide with emergency cash support of around €90 per month for two months during the harsh winter time. This will indirectly benefit more than 8,8 million children in the ages 6 to 18.
School Meals Support to Girls and Boys – Implemented by the WFP in collaboration with UNICEF, this €11 million project will ensure the provision of food at school and to take home for boys and girls in primary school. For girls in secondary level, the EU will also support cash transfers for their households conditional on girls’ school attendance. Mitigate the health effects of the COVID-19 emergency in Afghanistan: €10 million in EU support will improve testing, surveillance and hospital facilities to deal with COVID-19, working through the WHO.
Mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic through improved access to nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and gender-based violence prevention – This €25 million project will mitigate the health and nutrition effects of COVID-19 on women and children in Afghanistan, working through UNICEF. Work towards the eradication of polio, which still prevails in Afghanistan – This €25 million project, implemented by UNICEF and the WHO, will allow for polio vaccine procurement and other measures.
Food and cash for work support worth €50 million – Working with the WFP, the EU will increase food security for around 450,000 persons receiving food or cash when taking part in work programmes to boost food production. Sustain livelihoods, in particular for women – Working with UNDP, this €15 million project will allow around 23,000 entrepreneurs, mainly women, to receive technical and/or financial support to develop and expand their businesses.
Working with UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, IOM and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the EU has launched another five projects worth €79 million to address forced displacement and migration in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia. Afghan Children on the Move affected by Irregular Migration is a project implemented by UNICEF.
This €15 million project will notably support unaccompanied children in Afghanistan by contributing to protection measures, basic services and reintegration. It will also work towards assuring equal access to education, protection, health and nutrition for Afghan displaced children and youth, their families and vulnerable host communities, as well as and support indebted families, reducing the number of families taking their children out of school or opting for child marriage.
Support to Afghan refugees and displaced people in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan: This €34 million project, implemented by UNHCR, aims to enable durable solutions for Afghans on the move, including improving access to basic services, increased economic self-reliance and protection. Support to Displaced Afghans in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan: Implemented by IOM, this €15 million project will improve access to health and education, and create economic opportunities for vulnerable Afghans and their host communities in Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan, with a focus on specific needs of women and girls.
Support to vulnerable Afghans and host communities in Iran – In cooperation with NRC, this EU project worth €14 million will increase access to rights, protection and essential services for vulnerable Afghans and their host communities, as well as improve livelihoods and access to sustainable income. The project will notably allow the construction and equipping of classrooms and health facilities. Enhancing the capacity of Surkhandarya region in Uzbekistan to educate and train Afghan citizens: This €1 million project, implemented by UNDP, will increase education opportunities for Afghan citizens, with a particular focus on youth and women.
In addition, the EU is increasing its support to Afghan Human Rights Defenders at risk and Civil Society Organisations during this very challenging period with two projects worth €3.3 million. More projects in all these sectors are due to be launched in the coming months.