Following our national roundtable on illicit economies in Afghanistan last December, we published a report of the event. The report, Understanding the Impact of Illicit Economies on Afghanistan's Development, contains an overview of discussions held by the APPG Afghanistan and the subsequent roundtable discussion, held in collaboration with Christian Aid and Global Witness. Contributions from experts David Mansfield, Stephen Carter, and Heaven Crowley highlighted the role illicit drug, extractives, and migration economies have on development in the country.
In February, we held our first national roundtable for the year entitled, ‘Aid in a conflict zone: can military and development objectives work together?’, in collaboration with the Afghanistan Studies Group (ASG) of King’s College London. The panellists had a lively discussion about the lessons learned from past efforts to combine civil and military operations in Afghanistan and their views about what this ‘blurring of lines’ might mean for Afghanistan’s future. A full report of the event will be published soon.
In April, BAAG met with EC and DEVCO policymakers in Brussels to provide input into the new EU Strategy for Afghanistan. Led by the European Network for NGOs in Afghanistan (ENNA), civil society raised points about the importance of taking on board local perspectives, peacebuilding at all levels, the importance of including and supporting Afghan CSOs, poverty reduction, family planning, the decreased funding for literacy programs, the issue of migration and the inadequate reintegration of returnees as well as anti-corruption, especially regarding extractive industries, on the one hand, and ordinary citizens as victims of corruption, on the other. The points were well received and we look forward to seeing how the meeting impacted the final version of the EU strategy.
In May, we along with our members met the new Afghan Ambassador to the UK, H.E. S. Tayeb Jawad, during which we discussed priority issues for the country including the importance of putting out positive stories about Afghanistan through our own respective communication outlets and the media. The Ambassador expressed interest in collaborating on such initiatives in the future as in his view, the most damaging messages are those which say ‘in Afghanistan, it doesn’t work’.
Planning for our Afghanistan journalist’s trip continues! It is shaping up to be an exciting trip an updated itinerary has been uploaded to the shared drive.
In the absence of a good picture of our activities so far, please accept this shot from talented Afghan photographer Najeeb Azad!