To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the political and security situation in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement.
20 April 2017
The security situation across Afghanistan, including in Helmand, remains challenging and we expect this forthcoming fighting season to be as difficult as 2016. However, we should be mindful that this is the third year that the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) have taken the lead for security since the closure of the International Security Assistance Force combat mission. The ANDSF continue to improve under difficult security circumstances, supported by mentors from NATO's Resolute Support (RS) mission. The Taliban continue to test the ANDSF, particularly in rural areas and occasionally threaten some provincial capitals, but the ANDSF have shown professionalism and resilience in managing security and countering terrorism, including from Daesh's affiliate in the region.
Along with international partners, the UK is committed to helping Afghanistan to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO agreed to sustain the non-combat Train, Advise and Assist RS mission through 2017. We have increased the UK forces under RS command to a total of 500. The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, which I attended, on 4 October 2016 sent a strong signal of international resolve. At Brussels, the UK pledged £750 million in development support to Afghanistan through until 2020. Ultimately a political settlement offers the best prospect for an enduring peace. We urge the Taliban to join the political process and become part of a brighter future for Afghanistan.