Australia pledges more assistance for Uruzgan
TIRINKOT (PAN): Australia has pledged another $34 million for children’s health and education in the southwestern province of Uruzgan, the country’s foreign minister said during an unannounced visit to the province.
Kevin Rudd, the foreign affairs minister, was accompanied by the country’s ambassador to Afghanistan and other officials, the governor, Mohammad Omar Sherzad, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Thursday.
Australia would continue its long-term assistance to Afghanistan, especially Uruzgan, Rudd, said.
Asked about the slow pace of reconstruction in the province, Rudd said it would take time as Uruzgan was one of the more the backward provinces.
"Work has been done in the province, but some of it cannot be seen. Security is better now, roads are constructed, but changes will come slowly," he said.
Australia spends $110 million each year in Uruzgan, he said.
The foreign minister also visited with hundreds of children schooled by the Australian branch of Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation.
There are problems with access to education and a lack of teachers, he said. He pledged that they would provide $34 million for children's education.
Uruzgan governor, Sherzad, thanked Australia for assistance with security, reconstruction and education in the province.
The new assistance would also be spent on health care projects in the province, provincial head of Save the Children, Dr. Basir Sherzad, said.
Australia has 1,450 soldiers in Uruzgan. Since late 2001, 23 Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.
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