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Supporting Afghanistan: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Japan

Key nations allied with Afghanistan announced this month that they would be strengthening their missions in the country. This month Belgium sent 40 more soldiers to Afghanistan to reinforce its peacekeeping forces and prepare for the takeover of the command of the Kabul airport, where they will provide assistance to the Afghan authorities in airport management and operation. In the six months to come, the 40 soldiers will be responsible for the airport security, air command, radar operations, aircraft maintenance, and other tasks such as mine clearance and logistical support.

On October 5, Canada pledged $60 million over four years to education development via Afghanistan's Education Quality Improvement Project, one of nine programs managed by the World Bank's Afghanistan Redevelopment Trust Fund. It will buy textbooks, fund teacher training and help build schools.

On October 8, Denmark's ambassador to Afghanistan Franz-Michael S. Mellbin promised that his country would stay in Afghanistan for at least for 10 years to help the Afghans back to stability and development. "Denmark is determined to help ordinary Afghans to a better life and build a strong Afghanistan. This is why we are stepping up our efforts in all areas: political, development and military," he said. Denmark currently contributes US$40 million in annual assistance and has deployed 640 soldiers to support Afghanistan’s rebuilding effort.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark signed agreements with NATO and the European Union that would improve intelligence-sharing and enhance New Zealand’s contribution to police training. New Zealand has deployed 150 troops and three police training experts to Afghanistan.

The Netherlands announced that it will send 80 additional troops to support its own NATO force in Afghanistan, raising the total Dutch troop presence to 1,745. The troops will be deployed to the Deh Rawod district.

A five-member Czech police team will contribute to an EU mission in Afghanistan as advisors to the border police in the province Kunduz and the town Faizabad. Czech troops operate a field hospital in Kabul, others are part of a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Badakhshan province. Czech troops will takeover the leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Loghar province in the near future.

Japan announced that its government will construct a gymnasium for girls in Kabul as well as organize training courses for female Afghan teachers in Japan. Japan deputy minister for Education, Sports and Culture Professor Kenshiro Matsunami said the construction of gymnasium was pledged during a meeting with director of the Afghanistan Olympic Committee Muhammad Anwar Jagdalak.

Japan will also finance 18 rehabilitation projects, including the construction of 14 schools, two health clinics, one bridge and one supportive wall in several provinces. The schools will be constructed in Nangarhar, Bamyan, Takhar, Balkh and Parwan provinces. The clinics will be constructed in Bamyan and Nangarhar provinces, while the supportive wall will be constructed in Jawzjan and the bridge in Laghamn province. These projects have the potential to benefit over 70,000 people. Japan had implemented 580 projects in 34 provinces at the cost of over $57 million since 2002.

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