Minister of State Yelich Wraps Up Successful Visit to Kabul

December 1, 2013 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today concluded a successful visit to Kabul, during which she reinforced Canada’s ongoing commitment to helping Afghanistan achieve long-term peace and prosperity and to ensuring that it does not again become a base for terrorism directed against the international community. This was the Minister’s first visit to the country.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Afghanistan, a country where Canada has served proudly and worked tirelessly to defeat terrorism and to bring positive change and security to the Afghan people,” said Minister Yelich. “Building on strengths and accomplishments over the past decade, Canada will continue to support efforts for a better future for all Afghans.”

During her visit, Minister Yelich met with female parliamentarians and civil society members to discuss the upcoming 2014 presidential and provincial council elections and human rights. Canada is committed to the promotion and protection of women and girls in Afghanistan. Women and girls are an integral resource that will be essential to the development of communities and the advancement of their country.

Minister Yelich reinforced Canada’s commitment to advancing women’s democratic rights, announcing that Canada will contribute more than $1.8 million for two projects that will help support a more credible and inclusive democratic process during the 2014 elections in Afghanistan.

“The credibility of the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections is critical to the future of democracy in Afghanistan,” said Minister Yelich. “Canada is pleased to support the efforts of the Afghan people to make their voices heard during the upcoming elections— particularly the voices of women, who have historically been marginalized from decision-making processes.”

The Minister also had an opportunity to visit the Canadian Contribution Training Mission-Afghanistan, where she met with the last group of Canadian Armed Forces members training and mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), as Canada’s military mission draws to a close in March 2014.

“Canada’s soldiers have shown the highest level of dedication throughout the years, bringing security and stability to the people of Afghanistan and supporting our development efforts,” said Minister Yelich. “Their moral commitment to this mission has improved the lives of the Afghan people, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Canada’s goal is to help Afghans rebuild Afghanistan into a viable country that is better governed, more stable and secure and never again a safe haven for terrorists. In support of this, Canada has committed $330 million to help sustain the ANSF and $227 million in development aid between 2014 and 2017.

To learn more about Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, visit Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan.

A backgrounder follows.

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Adria Minsky
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @DFATDCanada

Backgrounder - Canada Announces Support for Elections in Afghanistan

Canada is committed to supporting Afghans and Afghan civil society as they build their new democracy and make the voices of the Afghan people heard during the upcoming elections—particularly the voices of women. To that end, Minister Yelich announced a Canadian contribution of more than $1.8 million for two projects that will help support a more credible and representative democratic process during the 2014 elections in Afghanistan.

Enhancing Participation and Protection of Citizens’ Democratic Rights

Implementing partner: Asia Foundation
Amount: up to $1,209,000

With Canada’s support, the Asia Foundation will educate Afghan women and youth about basic electoral processes, such as how to vote, in an effort to increase their participation in the upcoming 2014 and 2015 elections. This project also supports the Foundation’s work to train female election observers, increasing electoral accountability and transparency in Afghanistan.

This initiative builds on a previous Canadian-funded project that trained and registered 156 Afghan women as election observers with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and educated more than 29,000 Afghan youth and girls on basic electoral processes through 22 mock elections held in high schools across the country.

Deepening Democracy: 2014 Elections Observation Project

Implementing Partner: Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan
Amount: up to $603,300

Canada is providing more than $600,000 in support to the Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan to train and deploy up to 68 provincial coordinators and 200 long-term observers to monitor and report on the 2014 pre-election campaign activities. This project complements the broader efforts of the international community to support credible and constitutional elections in Afghanistan.