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Issue #1716      January 27, 2016

Call to restore aid

The peak body for Australia’s aid and development organisations is calling on the Australian government to reinstate aid funding to Afghanistan following the Prime Minister’s day-long trip to the country to visit Australian troops.

“Australian aid is of vital importance to Afghanistan, a country with huge development challenges with more than a third of people living in poverty and high levels of violence” said the CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Mr Marc Purcell.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s recent visit has further highlighted Australia’s need to reinstate bilateral aid to the country, which has been drastically cut from $130 million in 2014/2015 to $78 million in 2015/2016.

That equates to a 40 percent cut to Australia’s aid to Afghanistan in one year,” said Mr Purcell.

“Information recently released through Senate Estimates indicates that the 40 percent cut will have a direct impact on the support of two programs in particular – the Afghanistan UNDP Law and Order Trust Fund and the Afghanistan World Bank Reconstruction Trust Fund.

“Afghanistan is an important nation undergoing a critical transition. It requires substantial aid and development support, and for partners like Australia to keep their funding commitments, rather than cutting rapidly and drastically. 

“We call on the Turnbull-led government to reinstate aid levels, to better enable Australia’s aid program to contribute to reducing poverty and promoting peace and stability,” Mr Purcell said.

Fourteen Australian aid and development agencies are working on vital aid and development projects in Afghanistan, investing $20 million annually.

The Australian aid program was cut by $1 billion, or 20 percent, in last year’s federal budget. A further $224 million is scheduled to be cut in this year’s budget, taking Australian aid to its lowest level ever.

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