Switzerland to host international conference on relief for Afghanistan

Widowed and homeless: civil war and drought have ruined the lives of thousands in Afghanistan Keystone

The government is preparing for an international aid conference for Afghanistan next week. It marks the end of Switzerland's presidency of group of donor nations and non-governmental groups.

This content was published on December 1, 2000 - 18:19

The meeting in Montreux is due to set next year's priorities for the Afghanistan Support Group (ASG). The organisers said they expected about 90 people to attend the two-day conference.

The ASG, set up in 1996, is made up of 16 donor countries, as well as United Nations organisations and non-governmental groups. It seeks to improve coordination of relief operations in Afghanistan. Switzerland has held the rotating presidency of ASG this year.

The government's development aid agency said the population in the war-torn country had become even more reliant on international relief because of an unprecedented drought.

Switzerland spent SFr10 million ($5.8 million) on relief operations this year. The funds went towards humanitarian help for refugees and displaced people, as well as reconstruction efforts in rural areas.

The development agency sent four high-level missions to Afghanistan, where they met representatives of the ruling Taliban movement, which is fighting a civil war against an alliance of political factions.

The agency also organised monthly meetings in Pakistan in a bid to coordinate international aid.

In another move, the Swiss authorities organised secret talks between the rival factions in Afghanistan's civil war. Several meetings were held, but broke off after failing to make progress.

In October, the Swiss government decided to impose sanction against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement. As a result, financial transactions were banned and arms exports were prohibited.

The sanctions also include a visa ban on Taliban officials. The decisions are in line with the European Union and the UN.

swissinfo with agencies

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