As the US and NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the S&Ds call on the member states, NATO and the US to remain engaged in assisting Afghanistan in ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Only a negotiated ceasefire can establish a lasting peace in the country.
In the S&D’s view, the priority must go to Afghan women and children. Progress made on women’s rights is one of the biggest successes of the last 20 years in Afghanistan and must be preserved. For this reason the S&Ds strongly support the human rights conditionality attached to the EU’s financial pledge*.
Elena Yoncheva, MEP and the S&D negotiator of the resolution said in plenary debate on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s vote:
“After 20 years of military presence since the fall of the Taliban government, and despite some improvements, the situation in Afghanistan remains extremely insecure and is far from stable. The Taliban are again gaining control of influence in parts of the country, and there is a new wave of violence against journalists, judges, and government officials. Last year the number of civilian casualties reached over 8000, many of them women and children. There are still high levels of extreme poverty and corruption; drugs and illegal arms trafficking continue to finance terrorist organisations.
“The Afghan people deserve peace and prosperity. Now is the time to rethink and reshape our policies, The EU can no longer limit itself to economic aid, but must act as a global player in the wider region by bringing in all other regional actors and supporting the balance of power, that will work for ultimate peace.”
Marie Arena, S&D MEP and chair of the human rights subcommittee, said:
“I am extremely worried that Afghan women could pay the biggest price for the agreement on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. They already fear that the Taliban will use any opportunity to take back power and reintroduce many of the oppressive rules we saw under their regime in the 1990s when girls were barred from schools and women were prisoners in their own homes.
“We must not allow this happen. Young Afghan girls must continue going to schools. We have to make sure that the limited, but still concrete, gain that was made for women in the field of education and the participation in political and civil life will not be rolled back. That is why we call for a strong human rights conditionality, linked to any EU financial assistance for the reconstruction of the country. The EU’s priority must be the long term promotion of women’s fundamental rights, including the fight against domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and forced marriage and limited access to healthcare.”
Note to editors:
The EU committed over €5.1 billion to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2020; it subsequently committed €1.2 billion in assistance to Afghanistan at the Geneva Conference for the period 2021-2025.