In a letter signed by prominent leaders and individuals worldwide, friends and supporters of Afghanistan urged 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, diplomats, along with a range of civil society groups and leaders states 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 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 to protecting women’s rights and human rights and providing a 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 reaffirm support to civil society and human rights groups.
The endorsees 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 signed the letter, reiterating 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,” she said. Smeal has advocated for the human rights of Afghan women and girls for 25 years and 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 Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. While such support and messaging from allies and partners is critical, it is important to stand with Afghanistan for years to come.
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 its peak, targeting school girls, women leaders, journalists, judges, doctors, charity workers, teachers, government officials, minorities and even religious scholars.
The letter states that the “Afghan people, just as our other allies, deserve peace, justice, liberty and dignity” and that 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.”