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Germany

Germany Gives Financial Aid to Afghanistan

"Germany should be actively involved in the humanitarian and political process in Afghanistan": German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

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German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer

The swift fall of Kabul and the victories of the Northern Alliance has galvanized world leaders into a flurry of diplomatic activity.

Germany's Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wiezcerok-Zeul and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer are both optimistic about the latest developments in Afghanistan. They now see a chance for real help to be provided to the people there.

Fischer has said that Germany was prepared to increase its financial aid to Afghanistan.

Currently Germany has set aside 160 million marks ($72 million) to help the country rebuild after the war.

Fischer said in a news conference that Germany will also convene a meeting in early December of an international steering group that oversees aid to Afghanistan.

Germany chairs the group, which is made up of 15 donor nations, the European Union's executive arm, the U.N. refugee agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The stabilizaiton of Afghan urban areas now means it will be easier for relief agencies to resume transporting supplies and food to those Afghans most at risk of starvation in the northern and central highlands.

German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has said Berlin is prepared to play a key role in helping the country return to normal - and rebuild.

Fischer said representatives of the Afghanistan Support Group would go to Kabul as soon as possible.

It would examine what role the airport at Mazar-i-Sharif and land routes from Uzbekistan could play in any relief operation, as well as how ferry connections with Tadjikistan could be improved.

"Overall, we can say today that from the humanitarian point of view we face a big challenge," Fischer said.

Even before the U.S.-led military strikes began on Taliban forces in Afghanistan on October 7, the United Nations had been predicting a humanitarian disaster in the country, where roughly 3.5 million are seen as depending on aid for survival.

Fischer also envisages the European Union playing a visible role in getting aid to the Afghan reufgees.

The EU has so far provided around 350 million euros ($309.5 million) in aid for Afghanistan, he said.

He said pressure needed to be exerted on the Northern Alliance to avoid human rights abuses in areas that have recently come under their control.

But he was hopeful the latest advances would help avert a humanitarian disaster.

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