In a sign-on letter by prominent leaders and individuals worldwide, friends and supporters of Afghanistan are urging NATO and the European Union that as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan: “We must not abandon the Afghan people and their democratic republic.”
The letter—signed by former foreign ministers, former ambassadors to Afghanistan and diplomats, along with a range of civil society groups and leaders—says that while NATO armed forces are leaving Afghanistan, “It is the obligation of all NATO and European countries to continue to strongly stand by our Afghan partners.” The letter also urges NATO and the EU to continue the financial support to the Afghan state, protect the human rights of Afghan women and girls and continue to provide “robust financial” support to the Afghan national security forces.
The letter calls for support in six major areas, including protecting women’s rights and human rights and providing robust and sustainable support to the Afghan state. It asks to reaffirm robust financial support to the Afghan national security forces, continue development assistance to key Afghan institutions, support a strong UN role in the Intra-Afghan peace talks, and re-affirm support to civil society and human rights groups.
The endorsors remind NATO and the European Union that the world has a “responsibility” to Afghanistan and that it “must come together in their support to the Afghan National Security Forces who are fighting to protect Afghan lives from terrorists as well as work towards our shared security interests.”
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation who signed the letter, reiterated the importance of continued support to Afghanistan at this critical moment: “We cannot stop our support and funding to the Afghan people, especially to the women and girls of Afghanistan. They need our assistance now more than ever as they try to defend their country and protect their people.”
Smeal, who has advocated for the human rights of Afghan women and girls for 25 years, believes that despite many challenges, “the Afghan people, especially women and girls have achieved amazing gains in education, employment, leadership, health care and provide hope for an equal and prosperous society. Their tremendous efforts deserve our support.”
The U.S. has pledged to continue to provide support for the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls and minorities, through development and humanitarian aid as well as the continued provision of security assistance to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
The letter highlights the current high levels of violence perpetrated by the Taliban and their affiliates “who are using violence to silence and oppress the Afghan people.” For over a year, the Taliban offensive attacks have been at their peak, targeting girls in school, women leaders, journalists, judges, doctors, charity workers, teachers, government officials, minorities and even religious scholars.
“Afghan people, just as our other allies, deserve peace, justice, liberty and dignity,” the letter reads. The “killing and destruction of the people and institutions that uphold our shared values is not only a threat to the Afghan people who have been our allies for twenty years, but also to our core principles, legitimacy and global security.”