The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) participated in and delivered a statement at the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan, at the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General earlier today, 13 September 2021.

The important and timely meeting, held in Geneva, Switzerland, and live-streamed worldwide, was convened to highlight the acute needs in Afghanistan, and the urgent actions required by the international community to support the Afghan people during their time of need. 

In a statement delivered by Michael Kocher, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, AKDN affirmed that its commitment to the people of Afghanistan remains unshaken. 

The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network have worked at the community level for more than three decades to support and help Afghan people to realise their aspirations for a better life. “This work is ongoing, and we will do more,” Mr Kocher said. 

“Experience teaches us that determined, transparent and inclusive engagement – led and driven by Afghans in their communities – can and does take root and succeed. And bring real and lasting change.”

AKDN began working in Afghanistan in the 1990s when it started distributing food aid, through Focus Humanitarian Assistance’s relief programmes. Today, the Network’s integrated approach combines social, economic and cultural inputs. 

Its social development and humanitarian work is focused in various districts across eight provinces, overall impacting millions of women and men. This includes efforts to offer the country’s 30 million people timely access to quality health care. 

The French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC), the country’s leading maternal and child hospital in Kabul, is managed by the Aga Khan University, and is part of AKDN’s broader health system, which provides quality primary and curative health care to over 1.6 million Afghans every year.

In parallel, AKDN’s economic projects span over 240 cities and towns in the country’s 34 provinces. In 2003, AKDN and its partners launched Roshan, a mobile telecom provider, which is today a genuine driver of reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. It has invested resources in the country since 2003, turning an impediment to progress into a beacon of hope. It has a mobile network covering more than 287 districts in the country. 

Roshan directly employs around 650 people and provides indirect employment to over 30,000 people, making it one of the largest private employers in the country.

The Aga Khan Development Network’s cultural revitalisation activities are aimed at conserving and restoring Afghanistan’s cultural heritage, stimulating local economic development, and improving the quality of life for people living in surrounding neighbourhoods, while bringing much-needed green space to urban areas. Its projects have restored over 150 historic sites, including Bagh-e-Babur and the Chihilsitoon Garden in Kabul, the Citadel of Herat, and the Noh Gumbad Mosque in Balkh.

Today, Afghanistan faces several simultaneous crises. Following the recent turn of events in the region, the positive developmental gains made by Afghan civil society in partnership with NGOs and multilateral agencies are at risk of being lost. With recent droughts, increasing hunger and malnutrition, and the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, along with the coming harsh winter season, the delicate situation has been brought into sharp focus.

“Let us not turn away from decades of progress,” Mr Kocher said at the UN conference. “Or the two-thirds of Afghans under the age of 25, that have lived under the shadow of war – but with hopes and aspirations intact. We owe them dignity – the promise – of standing together in facing the future.” 

“Now is the time to be present, remain in dialogue, and work together with communities for peace, cohesion, opportunity and prosperity.”