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France’s Commitment in Afghanistan

A synergy of civilian and military actions

Why France is committed

To respect its international commitments, responsibilities and values

France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is present in Afghanistan alongside 40 nations including 25 of the 27 European Union countries at the behest of Afghan authorities and under a UN mandate.

It thus contributes, in accordance with its principles and values, to defending human rights and improving the position of women in society.

To help fight terrorism

Afghanistan must not fall victim to terrorism and become a sanctuary for terrorists like when the Taliban were in power. It must be protected from chaos and totalitarianism.

In fighting such threats, France is simultaneously working to bolster its own security.

To contribute to reconstruction and development

Afghanistan, which has been devastated by decades of war, must be entirely rebuilt: infrastructure, governance, economy, education and health systems. France will take an active part in these efforts to empower Afghans to control their own destiny as quickly as possible.

Because of its solidarity and loyalty to a historic friendship with the Afghan people

Since 1920, there has been continual cooperation between France and Afghanistan, even in Afghanistan’s darkest hours, when French NGOs continued to act in helping civilian populations. Since 2001, our ties have grown even stronger.

Progress made since 2001

France’s contribution to international action has helped…

…restore rule of law, improve governance and strengthen democracy

- 70% of Afghans voted in the 2004 presidential elections.

- New presidential vote in 2009.

- A parliament was elected in 2005.

- A national solidarity programme was implemented creating joint councils in over 20,000 villages.

- 5 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan since 2002.

…work towards greater respect for human rights, freedom of expression and improving women’s position in society

- The constitution adopted in January 2004 protects human rights including women’s rights.

- Legislation guarantees freedom of expression: there are now over 400 newspapers, 80 radio stations and more than 30 television channels.

- 27% of the Afghan Parliament members are women.

…make headway in health issues

- The infant mortality rate (down 25% since 2001 = 40,000 children saved every year).

- Training of over 10,000 health care workers, 50% of them women.

- Over 20% of the population now has access to safe drinking water thanks to the creation of 10,000 water-supply points.

…improve access to education

- Almost 6 million children are provided with schools, over 2 million of them female.

- 3,600 schools have been built since 2001.

…rebuild infrastructure

- Over 13,000 km roads have been rebuilt since 2001.

- Power generation has tripled since 2002.

…promote economic development

- Vigorous economic growth generated by dynamic services and construction.

- 70% increase in GDP since 2001.

- Considerable surge in farm production (wheat, cotton, saffron).

Diplomatic action

Enhanced bilateral relations

Increase in the number of high-level bilateral visits to Afghanistan (President of the Republic, ministers, Parliament members).

2008: Stepped-up action in the international arena

The International Conference in Support of Afghanistan in Paris in June, a regional meeting with Afghanistan and its neighbours at La Celle-Saint-Cloud in December…

Some 85 countries and international organizations attended the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan held in Paris. It helped reaffirm political support and with nearly 20 million dollars pledged by the international community, for Afghanistan, the Conference established a renewed partnership focused on increasing the Afghan people’s ownership of responsibilities.

At the meeting in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France strove to promote the reinforcement of regional cooperation and give it new political impetus.

Military engagement

Since February 2009, some 2,800 French soldiers are involved in Afghanistan as part of counterterrorism operations and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Security of the Afghan people

France supports the upgrade of the Afghan National Army with training and operational assistance to units.

Regional and local responsibilities

Kabul :

France took command of the region around the capital (Regional Command-Capital, RC-C), one of the ISAF’s regional commands. The French contingent, comprising 1,400 men, includes Staff, the French battalion, command and support battalion, and the helicopter detachment. Since late August 2008, it has been supervising the progressive transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces.


A 600-troop combined arms task force is deployed in Kapisa (in the North-Eastern part of Kabul). It fulfils joint protection missions together with the Afghan National Army.

Air missions are carried out from the bases in Kandahar (Afghanistan), Dushanbe (Tadzhikistan) and Manas (Kirghizistan) to provide close air support, intelligence, transport and supply.

(Information updated in February 2009.)

Reconstruction assistance

The French government provides assistance in a number of areas, including:


Creating a French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul, a project to overhaul the blood transfusion system, university hospital cooperation.


Revitalizing the cotton industry, developing horticulture, providing institutional support to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture.


Supporting French schools in Afghanistan for boys (Esteqlal) and for girls (Malalai) in Kabul, teaching of French language at Kabul University.

Governance and the rule of law

Providing support for the establishment of the Parliament, training justice officials (Supreme Court).

Fight against drugs and forensic science

Training police officers and providing technical material.

Development of the private sector

Financing micro-credit programmes to encourage local activity.

Safeguarding Afghan cultural heritage

Cooperation projects in the archaeological and audiovisual fields.

France’s assistance will be increased over the next three years. Priority will be on agriculture, education and health, which are crucial to improving Afghan people’s living standards.

Assistance is also provided by French NGOs, which receive subsidies, particularly to finance actions to provide food aid.

Useful links

To find out more about Afghanistan’s history, economy, domestic situation and politics, the commitment of the international community, the role of the United Nations, France’s action…

Provides information on action being taken since 2001 to further Afghanistan’s recovery: texts, photos and videos (in French).

To find out more about France’s armed forces worldwide and in Afghanistan in particular.

For more in-depth information on France’s military engagement in Afghanistan: texts, photos and videos (in French).

Overview of action taken by the United Nations in Afghanistan.

Source: Brochure made by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Ministry of Defence (June 2009)

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