Billions in aid must not be squandered, Kabul is told

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The Independent Online

Afghanistan's international backers confirmed yesterday that they will continue providing support after Western forces pull out in three years time. But there were strong warnings to the Kabul government that the billions of dollars given in aid must not be squandered through corruption and malpractice.

Military action in Afghanistan has cost the US-led coalition $350bn over the past 10 years, with about $33bn given in civil aid.

The Bonn conference, laying out the road map for Afghanistan after 2014, confirmed that funds needed over the next decade – at least $7.2bn a year according to the World Bank – would be provided in donations despite the economic problems in Europe and the US.

"We intend to stay the course with our friends in Afghanistan," said the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. "We will be there with you as you make the hard decisions that are necessary for your future." She added that the region had "much to lose if the country again becomes a source of terrorism and instability".

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague added: "We will not abandon Afghanistan. The sacrifices made over the last 10 years have not been made in vain. Afghanistan's friends will continue to support her long after international combat troops have left."

Masood Ahmed, the International Monetary Fund director for the Middle East and Central Asia, stressed: "As the fiscal situation in many of the partner countries of Afghanistan becomes more difficult, it will become all the more important to be able to demonstrate the money is being allocated in a way that achieves its intended objectives."