As at: 07/03/2023
The de facto authorities are committing massive human rights violations, violating, in particular, the rights of women, girls and minorities, and systematically edging women and girls out of public life. The United Nations views these forms of targeted discrimination as crimes against humanity. Girls are banned, for instance, from attending secondary schools and women are not allowed to go to university. In addition, women are forbidden to work for non-governmental organisations, travel without being accompanied by a man or visit public places such as parks. Afghanistan's de facto government is still not recognised internationally.
Development work must and can continue
The Afghan people urgently need support to ensure that basic needs continue to be met. The international community agrees that humanitarian assistance alone is not enough in this situation.That is why, although the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) suspended its official bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan after the Taliban took power in August 2021, it is still continuing to support the Afghan people – at the community level, without involving the government.
This means that the BMZ is not negotiating with Taliban representatives. Nor is it working with them in any other way.
However, Germany is not leaving the Afghan people to fend for themselves.
The support offered by the BMZ is aimed at maintaining basic services and thus contributing to overcoming the humanitarian crisis in the medium to long term. Development activities on the ground are being implemented exclusively via the World Bank, UN organisations and non-governmental organisations without involving the government at all.
The protection of human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, is absolutely central. The BMZ’s involvement is therefore based on the principle “with women, for women”. Where women are able to work in the programmes that the BMZ is financing and can be reached by these programmes, the BMZ will continue its activities in order to maintain basic services for the people.
Germany made 600 million euros available in 2021 in order to reduce the impact of the humanitarian disaster and prevent the region from becoming destabilised. This money has been used for humanitarian aid, transitional development assistance and basic needs. These funds went to Afghanistan but also to neighbouring countries, for example to support Afghan refugees and host communities. The BMZ contributed some 250 million euros to this crisis package put together by the German government.
In 2022, Germany made 527 million euros available in Afghanistan for humanitarian assistance, transitional development assistance and basic needs. 187 million euros is from the BMZ's budget (115 million euros for Technical and Financial Cooperation, 72 million euros for transitional development assistance).
The United Nations and non-governmental organisations are indispensable partners when it comes to helping Germany provide assistance in the areas of food security, education, healthcare, psychosocial support, employment and social protection. The proviso is that the assistance provided must directly benefit the Afghan people, with no funds going to the de facto authorities.
The principles guiding our engagement
The BMZ and other donors have agreed fundamental principles for international engagement in Afghanistan. This includes, for example, not involving the Afghan government and ensuring equal access to support for women and girls.
When in December 2022 the Taliban banned women from working in non-governmental organisations, the BMZ immediately suspended most of its bilateral development cooperation projects and explored options for how to proceed in close consultation with other international donors.
The German government is following the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan very closely, deciding whether and how to adjust its involvement depending on how the situation develops.
Aims of German development policy in Afghanistan
Germany wants to keep on doing its utmost to improve the living conditions for the Afghan people. The objectives of Germany’s development activities are therefore
- strengthening the resilience of the people and enabling them to earn a living and
- promoting effective institutions and social cohesion and improving the economic situation.
The BMZ is supporting projects in Afghanistan that help to meet people’s basic needs. One focus is on the special needs of women and girls and of other disadvantaged groups. Support in the area of food security involves, for instance, measures to help people grow drought-resistant crops. Kitchen gardens and greenhouses are being set up in schools and women in rural areas are being given opportunities to generate an income (bee keeping or poultry farming).
Support in the area of education includes, for example, non-formal training for women in the health sector, upskilling primary school teachers (regarding, for instance, hygiene for girls or supporting traumatised pupils) and supporting school kitchens.
Support for internally displaced Afghan citizens and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries
Even before the Taliban took power, Afghanistan was the country of origin of the third highest number of refugees in the world (after Syria and Venezuela). Most Afghan refugees remain in the local region. Some 2.1 million Afghans are currently living in neighbouring countries, in particular in Pakistan and Iran. Some 3.4 million people who have been displaced from their homes have sought refuge in other parts of Afghanistan.
Evaluation and research
With a view to learning from the past for future interventions in fragile environments, the lessons learned through the BMZ’s engagement will be reviewed in cooperation with other ministries, the implementing organisations, civil society partners – including from the Afghan diaspora – and academic institutions. In April 2022, a joint evaluation was started of the work done in Afghanistan by Germany's Development Ministry, its Federal Foreign Office and its Ministry of the Interior.
In addition, the German parliament established a Study Commission in July 2022 with the aim of drawing lessons from Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan with a view to optimising the comprehensive approach to security policy in the future. The Commission will investigate Germany’s engagement in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 and develop recommendations for future foreign and security policy. The members of the Commission will ground their work in the experience and reports of experts from politics, civil society and academia from the two countries.
SDG trends for Afghanistan
- On track or maintaining SDG achievement
- Moderately improving
- Trend information unavailable