OSLO: Norway will cut its aid to Afghanistan in 2014 due to a lack of progress on women’s rights and efforts to combat corruption, a senior Norwegian official said yesterday.
Aid will be slashed from an annual 750m kroner ($126m) to 700m kroner, a reduction of about seven percent.
“We warned Afghan authorities in July that the consequences (of the reform delays) could be a reduction (in aid), and now this is coming,” Deputy Foreign Minister Torgeir Larsen told Aftenposten newspaper.
Larsin, a member of Norway’s outgoing government that lost September 9 general election, said details of the cut would be outlined in the 2014 budget his government is scheduled to present on October 14, its last task before leaving office a few days later.
The decision is not expected to be contested by the incoming government.
A report from the Norwegian embassy in Kabul quoted by Aftenposten said 87 percent of Afghan girls and women have been subjected to some form of violence and 70 percent of policewomen harassed or sexually assaulted by their superiors.
According to a recent ranking by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
“We are deeply concerned about the widespread violence against women in Afghanistan,” Larsen said, adding the Afghan authorities had failed to submit a report on the problem that they had promised by July.
“Corruption is a vast problem, with the Kabulbank scandal as one example. Not enough has been done to prosecute all those involved, not enough has been done to recover the money embezzled. This indicates that corruption is not being taken seriously enough by the Afghan authorities.”
A court sentenced more than a dozen men to jail in March, including Kabulbank’s founder and chief executive, after $935m was stolen from what was then Afghanistan’s biggest bank. Agencies