Australia in it for the long haul in Afghanistan

An Australian member of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzail have signed an agreement that commits Australia's aid to the Asian country beyond the 2014 exit of Australian troops from Afghanistan. Photo by: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez / ISAF

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made it clear: Her country is not turning its back on Afghanistan once Australian troops depart the Asian country in 2014.

Gillard and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sealed a long-term partnership between their countries on May 20, during a bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Chicago.

The partnership indicates an increase in Australian aid to Afghanistan from the current 165 million Australian dollars ($162 million) to AU$250 million per year by 2015-16.

An increase in Afghan aid has the support of the federal opposition. Sen. David Johnston, a high-ranking lawmaker of the Australian federal opposition, has specifically called for “a dramatic increase” in AusAID’s presence in the war-torn Islamic nation.

The partnership partly validates earlier reports that Australia was cooking a new aid program for Afghanistan that focuses on agriculture and rural development. It aims to help expand delivery of basic health and education services, enhance governance and public financial management, improve livelihoods and advance rural development.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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