Swiss Cooperation Office in Afghanistan
Switzerland supports Afghanistan's pathway leading out of fragility and out of poverty by addressing interlinked dimensions of fragility. Switzerland contributes to reduce poverty, human suffering and loss of life in Afghanistan by promoting social cohesion and a peaceful society with effective, accountable and inclusive institutions for all people to be safe and live in dignity. To this end, Switzerland contributes to increase the respect of human rights and improve protection of vulnerable population groups, in particular returnees and internally displaced people (IDPs). Furthermore, Switzerland contributes to improve rural livelihoods and promotes access to quality education.
Over the past four decades, Afghanistan has been the scene of two protracted foreign military interventions and a civil war. The long period of armed conflict has taken a heavy toll on Afghanistan’s institutions, created enormous human suffering and hindered its economic and social development. Today, Afghanistan is among the poorest countries in the world and highly fragile in all dimensions. Nevertheless, over the past sixteen years, important progress has been achieved in education, health, rural development, justice and good governance. Continued joint efforts by the Afghan government and the international community are crucial to sustain what has been achieved and to ensure no one is left behind.
Switzerland in Afghanistan
Cooperation between Afghanistan and Switzerland did not just start in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. In the early seventies, the SDC already sent specialists to northern Afghanistan to teach farmers how to produce cheese. At the same time, other Swiss specialists were involved in water projects. After the invasion by Soviet troops in 1979, however, the SDC withdrew from Afghanistan and resumed its work from its base in Pakistan.
During the eighties and nineties, Switzerland provided humanitarian assistance to mainly internally displaced persons and Afghan refugees through multilateral channels such as UNHCR, WFP and ICRC in the country as well as in Pakistan and Iran. Starting in 1997, Switzerland actively participated in the Afghanistan Support Group (ASG), a donor aid coordination mechanism that existed until 2001.
In 2002, the Government of Switzerland established the Cooperation Office in Kabul to support the stabilisation and reconstruction of the war torn country. Today, the Swiss Cooperation Office runs and supervises a development and humanitarian aid programme with an annual turnover of a minimum of CHF 27 million for the years 2019 – 2022. Switzerland’s commitment in Afghanistan is guided by the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Afghanistan 2019-2022.