Kazakhstan, EU discuss resolution of humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

NUR-SULTAN — Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister of Trade and Integration Kairat Torebayev and EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas Nicklasson on February 25 discussed the measures taken by the EU and European countries to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in 2022.

Torebayev said that Kazakhstan welcomes the initiative of EU partners to introduce the discussion of Afghanistan as a separate agenda item on the EU-CA platform.

“In addition to supporting regional integration, this step helps us coordinate our efforts and, hopefully, calibrate timely and necessary responses to the challenges arising from the difficult situation in Afghanistan. It is commendable how the EU mobilizes funds and stakeholders to promote positive changes in Afghanistan,” Kazakh Vice Minister Torebayev said.

Also, according to Torebayev, the Kazakh side took note of the fact that the EU restored the minimum presence of international staff of the EU Delegation in Kabul to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and monitor the humanitarian situation in the country.

In this regard, the Kazakh side invited the representative and the Kazakh Ambassador in Kabul to establish good contacts to coordinate their efforts.

“We take into account that the EU supports the concept of a broader Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan. This idea has already been reflected in the structure of some regional programs (BOMCA). In this connection, Kazakhstan can be useful in logistics, trade, human resources and production capacity,” Torebayev said.

In addition to humanitarian aid and trade relations, the Kazakh side expressed readiness to continue EU-supported educational programs to train Afghan girls at Kazakh universities.

Torebayev also said that Kazakhstan is considering investing in the construction of flour mills in Afghanistan, which would create new jobs in the country.

“We recommend that Kazakh fintech companies (for example, Kaspi) provide assistance (or invest in creating the necessary conditions for providing) basic financial services directly to the population of Afghanistan based on the use of smartphones, as well as provide financial services through their platform when the banking system begins to recover in the country,” Torebayev said.

On January 18, 2022, the EU announced the allocation of 268.3 million euros to Afghanistan, aimed at paying salaries, financing social programs, and implemented through UN offices.

The funds are allocated through UN agencies in the country (UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNHCR, WHO, IOM), directly to recipients of assistance. The EU finances projects in the fields of health, food, clean water, education, especially for women and girls. The funds can also be used to support food security and local markets.