Third Quarterly Report on Afghanistan Released

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — (Marketwire) — 03/04/09 — Today, the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation and Vice-Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, released the Government’s third quarterly report on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. This report covers the last quarter of 2008 and outlines the challenges and progress that has been made in achieving our goals in that country.

“There is no doubt the security conditions in Afghanistan remain very dangerous. However, due to the efforts of our brave men and women, I am pleased to report that Canada is making steady progress in Afghanistan,” said Minister Day. “The gains we have made, and continue to make, such as strengthening Afghan National Security Forces, restoring the Dahla Dam and building schools are having a major positive impact on the lives of the Afghan people.”

“During my recent visit I witnessed that real progress has been achieved despite the immense challenges faced by the Afghan people,” said Minister Oda. “I saw how an increase in civilian presence has strengthened Canada’s engagement with key Afghan officials and how the effectiveness of our development effort is increasing.”

The report highlights important progress in key areas, such as:

– Increased capacity of the Afghan National Army (ANA), including near-autonomous operational capability for the Afghan national army brigade headquarters in Kandahar province.

– The selection of SNC-Lavalin and Hydrosult for a Canadian joint venture to manage the three-year, $50 million, rehabilitation of the Dahla Dam and irrigation system. This dam will create 10,000 seasonal jobs and revitalize agriculture and the economy of the Kandahar region.

– Ongoing school construction with one school completed during the quarter (bringing the total to three) and another 22 under construction. We aim to build, expand or repair 50 schools in key districts by 2011.

– Literacy training for nearly 11,000 adults, including close to 9,000 women, continued over the quarter.

– Support for Afghanistan’s national polio vaccination program. While challenges associated with the eradication of polio remain, about 7.1 million children were vaccinated nationally during this quarter.

– Since January 2006, 346 square kilometers of land have been cleared of mines across Afghanistan – thereby permitting this land to be put to productive use.

– Support preparations for the Afghan-led 2009 presidential and provincial council elections by providing financial and technical support.

Noted in the third quarterly report is also how Canada has implemented the recommendations made by the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, the Manley Panel, to bring greater effectiveness to our engagement in Afghanistan. Over the past year, a US battalion has deployed to Kandahar; the Canadian Forces have acquired and deployed Chinook heavy-lift and Griffon tactical helicopters to safely transport our military and civilian personnel, as well as new Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to support their operations; and, allies have been informed that Canada’s military presence in Kandahar will end in 2011.

Canada’s diplomatic, development and security operations in Afghanistan are more closely coordinated and we report to parliamentarians and Canadians in detail on progress through these quarterly reports and other public information tools.

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