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Afghanistan (Monthly Progress Report)

Volume 576: debated on Friday 28 February 2014

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the 34th progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.

On 11 January the Ministry of Interior (MoI) published its preliminary elections security risk assessment in advance of the presidential and provincial council elections on 5 April. Of the 6,845 polling centres around the country, the MoI expected that 94% would be able to open without significant security issues. Some 414 centres were described as being at risk and unlikely to open on election day. Security preparations will continue.

On 16 January special representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan met in Delhi to discuss progress in Afghanistan. They discussed elections, election security, regional co-operation, economic opportunities and women’s rights. From Afghanistan, the meeting was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmadi and Afghan Interior Minister Daudzai.

From 28 to 29 January, Minister of Counter Narcotics, Din Mohammad Mubarez Rashedi, hosted a conference to discuss regional co-operation on counter narcotics with Afghanistan’s neighbours.

On 29 January the Government of Afghanistan and the international community held a joint co-ordination and monitoring board meeting in Kabul to take stock of progress against the Tokyo mutual accountability framework (TMAF) and identify priorities for further reform.

On 13 January the UK agreed to extend its strategic support to the Ministry of Interior project by £2.7 million, raising the total commitment to £9.9 million until March 2015. This project will provide essential capacity building support over the Afghan elections and during the transition period.

High-profile attacks are on the rise. An attack on the Lebanese restaurant in Kabul on 17 January, in which two British civilians were killed, was followed by five separate vehicle-borne IED attacks on 30 January. This brought the total number of suicide attacks in January to 15.

January marked the end of the first-term of training at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA). Selection for the 2nd Kandak of cadets has been completed and of the 900 that applied, 270 have been selected to start training when the next-term commences on 16 February.

I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the gov.uk website (www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-progress-reports).