June 3, 2009 (5:00 p.m. EDT)
No. 150

Fourth Quarterly Report on Afghanistan Released

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade, Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, today released the Government of Canada’s fourth quarterly report on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. In particular, the report for the quarter ending March 31, 2009, outlines progress in advancing the rule of law.

“Canada continues to make significant progress in the training and mentoring of Afghan police, corrections and justice officials, which is an integral part of strengthening the rule of law in Afghanistan,” said Minister Day. “As a result, Afghan officials are better equipped and are demonstrating a marked improvement in their ability to safeguard their own communities.”

Canada continued to make significant contributions during the quarter. During their visit to Afghanistan in March, Minister Day and the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced more than $21 million to strengthen the rule of law—most of which will go toward paying for police and prison-service salaries, and building capacity within the Afghan justice system.

“The report highlights one of the central elements of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, which is to advance the rule of law,” said Minister Day. “The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has outlined the tremendous social and cultural challenges that must be overcome to advance the rule of law. However, through our strategy of setting clear benchmarks for progress, Canada is firmly committed to advancing the rule of law in a step-by-step fashion.”

Earlier in January, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced a contribution of $14 million in humanitarian assistance to the UN and other organizations to address winter food shortages in the country.

The fourth quarterly report illustrates important progress being made in the following key areas.

Canadian and Afghan Forces continued to attack and disrupt networks responsible for setting improvised explosive devices (IEDs):

  • By the end of the quarter, Afghan soldiers and police were mounting a growing number of effective and independent operations.
  • Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have been finding more IEDs as a result of their improved capability to solicit tips from the public and detect IEDs.

Through Canadian mentoring and training efforts, the ANSF have demonstrated marked improvements in Kandahar:

  • The highest capacity milestone was maintained by the Afghan National Army Brigade Headquarters and one battalion, while the second-highest milestone was reached by four other battalions.
  • A literacy project was launched and facilities were upgraded for Afghan National Police in Kandahar.

Consistent with the international focus on the region, Canada brought together Afghan and Pakistani officials in Dubai, where they adopted an unprecedented joint border management plan.

Afghans completed voter registration for presidential and provincial council elections in August—a major event in building capacity for democratic governance and an example of security success for ANSF. In Kandahar, 300,000 more Afghans have been registered to vote.

Under Canada’s three signature projects:

  • A new bridge was built and initial assessment was completed by the Canadian firms responsible for implementing the Dahla Dam signature project, which will add 10,000 seasonal jobs when complete.
  • Under Canada’s signature education project, two more schools were completed, bringing the total to five completed and 25 more under construction. We are on track to building, expanding or repairing 50 schools in key districts by 2011.
  • Continuing Afghanistan’s national polio vaccination program, more than 350,000 Kandahari children were vaccinated in campaigns led by UN agencies, though many children were missed as a result of a lack of security in some areas.

Also noted in the fourth quarterly report is the announcement of a new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Efforts in Afghanistan are being bolstered with the addition of 17,000 U.S. troops; a sizeable portion of these forces is expected to be based in the south, including in Kandahar where Canadian efforts are focused. Canada continues to work closely with its U.S. partners, coordinating civilian and military activities to deliver crucial governance, reconstruction and development work in Kandahar.

Advancing the rule of law is one of the central elements of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Canada’s efforts continue to be guided by our six priorities as we help Afghanistan rebuild a viable country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure.

The fourth quarterly report on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
www.internationaltrade.gc.ca