December 20, 2006 13:43 ET

Canada's New Government Partners with Unicef and the World Food Programme to Assist Families in Afghanistan

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 20, 2006) - The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages, today announced that Canada will contribute $4.5 million to UNICEF and $4 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to assist vulnerable families in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province.

"Canada is committed to supporting Afghanistan in its efforts to address the basic needs of its most vulnerable citizens," said Minister Verner. "Today's contributions to UNICEF and the World Food Programme will improve the lives of tens of thousands of people living in Kandahar, primarily women and children, by providing food aid, improving health and nutrition, access to clean water and basic shelter."

UNICEF will provide some 20,000 families with non-food items such as tents, blankets and warm jackets which are very much needed with winter's arrival. With Canada's support, UNICEF will also provide health and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, as well as micronutrients for children and pregnant women. Through UNICEF, support will be given to the Public Health Department's measles vaccination campaign to immunize as many as 189,000 children. In addition, UNICEF, through the Afghan Department of Education, will procure and distribute education materials for about 40,000 students who are now going to school in temporary centres.

"Women and children in Afghanistan continue to face huge challenges to their health and well-being and children are still confronted with barriers to accessing a quality education," said Evelyne Guindon, Executive Director of UNICEF Quebec. "This Canadian funding for UNICEF's work to help conflict-affected families will allow us to greatly expand our humanitarian response within the southern region of Afghanistan, and we are grateful for this support."

The non-food aid focus of UNICEF's initiatives complements today's commitment of $4 million to the WFP to provide food assistance to about 31,000 families in Kandahar who have been affected by the conflict and by the drought. This funding is in response to the WFP's Drought Joint Appeal to help internally displaced people in Kandahar.

Canada's contributions today to UNICEF and the WFP build on existing initiatives to improve the lives of people in southern Afghanistan. In October, Minister Verner announced a $4.9 million emergency food aid contribution to the WFP and a $5 million contribution to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to immunize all children in southern Afghanistan against polio.

Today's announcement is part of Canada's total contribution of nearly $1 billion over 10 years aimed at reconstruction, reducing poverty and strengthening Afghanistan's governance; all key elements in stabilizing the country and the region.

For more information on Canada's programming in Afghanistan, please refer to CIDA's website at .

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Nicole Lascelle
    Director of communications
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534 (electronic version of document)