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Canada-Afghanistan relations

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Canada and the Afghanistan crisis

On August 15, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that it had suspended operations at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. All remaining Canadian diplomats, locally engaged staff (LES) and Armed Forces personnel were safely evacuated from Afghanistan. Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as the Government of Afghanistan. The Taliban remains a listed terrorist entity under Canadian law.

The Taliban’s take-over of Afghanistan has fundamentally changed conditions in the country. A severe humanitarian crisis has ensued, having an impact on a significant portion of the population. The human rights situation continues to deteriorate, with women, girls and ethnic and religious minorities facing systemic discrimination and violations of their human rights. Furthermore, Afghanistan is becoming, once again, a safe haven for trans-national terrorists.

Canada remains committed to doing its part to address these challenges, working closely with international partners. Canada’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, based in Doha, coordinates with the international community on a joint response to the crisis in Afghanistan. In response to growing Taliban human rights violations, Canada strongly advocates for coordinated efforts by the international community to press the Taliban to respect international humanitarian law, and uphold human rights, in particular, the full rights of women, girls and ethnic minorities. Canada also calls for the formation of an inclusive and representative Afghan government. These priorities are also advanced through Canada’s sustained engagement across high-level international fora, including the G7 and the United Nations.

As part of its response to the crisis, the Government of Canada has committed to welcoming at least 40,000 Afghan refugees, including women leaders, human rights defenders, members of religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ2 individuals, journalists, and extended family members of previously resettled interpreters. This commitment is one of the largest in the world. Learn more about Canada’s commitment to resettle Afghans.

Bilateral relations

Canada has suspended all diplomatic operations in Afghanistan and does not recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.

Since the early 1960s, Canada has provided humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan initially in response to a series of natural disasters. In 1968, Canada formally established diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, and, in 2003, opened its Embassy in Kabul and appointed its first resident ambassador. As of August 15, 2021, following the Taliban’s take-over of the country, Canada no longer has a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.

International assistance

Canada is deeply concerned by the dire humanitarian situation facing Afghans, and is continuing to facilitate assistance to vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and the region. Canada supports gender-responsive principled humanitarian action, based on critical needs, to help save lives, alleviate suffering and support the dignity of those affected by crises. Recognizing significant and growing needs, Canada has provided over $143 million in humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable Afghans in Afghanistan and the region in 2022. Canada is working through experienced humanitarian partners, such as United Nations agencies, both inside Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries, to provide life-saving assistance. Canada remains in active communication with other donors, the World Bank and United Nations agencies to develop solutions that address the needs of Afghans.

Canada has been providing international assistance to the country since the 1960s. From 2001 to 2021, Canada provided $3.9 billion in international assistance to Afghanistan. These funds supported stabilization, reconstruction, peace and development efforts in Afghanistan. In 2022, Canada provided $70 million to support the delivery of basic services in health and education to the most vulnerable Afghans, particularly women and girls, in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

Guided by its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada’s international assistance to Afghanistan adopts a “women and girls’ rights first” approach. With Canadian and international support, Afghans achieved significant democratic, human rights, education, and health gains over the past twenty years. The Taliban’s control of Afghanistan is threatening those gains in every sector and has resulted in the withdrawal of financial support to Afghan government institutions by many members of the international community.

Contribution of the Canadian Armed Forces

More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members served in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from 2001 to 2014, making it the largest Canadian military deployment since the Second World War. 158 Canadian Forces members and one Canadian diplomat died during the intervention. Canada concluded its military operations in 2014. In August 2021, the CAF returned to oversee evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport as part of Operation AEGIS. In coordination with international allies, the CAF successfully evacuated more than 3,700 people, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, citizens of allied countries, Afghan nationals with links to Canada, and other vulnerable Afghans.

Trade relations

Canadians and Canadian companies planning to conduct activities in Afghanistan are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Canadian sanctions and restrictions. The Taliban is a listed terrorist entity under Canadian law. Strong due diligence and mitigation measures are crucial for any organization seeking to work in the country.

The Government of Canada cannot provide legal advice to the public. We recommend obtaining legal advice with respect to any particular legal matter related to engaging in trade relations with Afghanistan.

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Partnerships and organizations

The Government of Canada is working closely with partners and organizations, including the United States, in our ongoing efforts to resettle vulnerable Afghans through Canada’s special programs.

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, including the situation in Afghanistan, Canada and likeminded work closely with a range of multilateral organizations and in multilateral fora, including:

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