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Gifting of Equipment (Afghanistan)

Volume 586: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has today laid a departmental minute proposing a gift to the Government of Afghanistan.

The UK is committed to developing counter-terrorism capability in Afghanistan in furtherance of the Government’s counter-terrorism (CT) objectives under CONTEST. As part of this approach, the UK assists key partner nations to develop effective and sustainable counter-terrorism capabilities which operate in line with agreed international human rights standards. By helping countries to undertake CT activities locally, it targets the problem at source and reduces the risk of a terrorist attack against that nation or another.

Afghanistan remains a top priority for the Government. Post 2014 it will remain one of the poorest and most insecure countries in the world. We remain concerned that terrorist groups based in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) are re-establishing a presence in Afghanistan, and that the threat to the UK mainland will not decrease in the short term.

We have been running three projects which aim to develop the capability of operational units within the Afghan national security forces (ANSF) to tackle the Afghan insurgency by conducting human rights compliant CT operations. As part of these projects the MOD procured equipment over a number of years from 2009 to use with Afghan units. The equipment is currently in Afghanistan.

The proposal is for the MOD to gift the equipment to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Ministry of Interior (MOI) to allow these units to continue to reduce the terrorist threat once international security assistance forces withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. The package of gifting and training will provide the ANSF with a valuable and sustainable capability to deal with the threat.

The original total cost was approximately £6 million, and an approximate estimate of the current value is £0.4 million.

The proposed gift has been assessed and approved against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. The projects, including information on the equipment to be procured, were approved by the cross-HMG programme boards, which confirmed that they fit with the Government’s strategic and delivery objectives. MOD officials also assessed the projects in 2013 for human rights risks using the overseas security and justice assistance guidelines.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the minute was laid, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or of a motion in relation to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.