Today I announce that Australia will increase its contribution to support Afghanistan in defeating terrorism and pursuing peaceful development and regional stability.

During a debate in the United Nations Security Council, I announced that the Australian Government will provide $60 million over three years in humanitarian assistance to help meet critical food security, protection and health needs of displaced people, refugees and host communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This latest contribution will enable the World Food Programme to provide emergency food assistance and support longer term interventions to improve food security and community resilience.

Support through the United Nations Population Fund will enable almost 800,000 women and girls to access critical health services, including maternal health care and to access assistance for those who are survivors of gender-based violence. Our contribution to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, managed by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will enable humanitarian agencies to address emerging and priority needs, as the situation evolves.

The funding will be drawn from our existing bilateral aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Our diplomatic, defence and development engagement is helping the Afghan Government and its international partners create long-term security and development. This includes our contribution of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, who are helping train, advise and assist local security forces.

We support the Afghan Government's vision of an Afghan-led peace process and welcome its offer to engage in talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan's neighbours have much to gain from improved regional stability and we welcome their constructive engagement in this process.

Conflict and instability in the region has resulted in one of the world's most protracted humanitarian crises. The United Nations estimates over 12 million people in Afghanistan and over three million people in Pakistan will require humanitarian assistance in 2018.

The Australian Government acknowledges the toll that conflict and insecurity has had on the Afghan people and stand by them as they seek to build a safer, more prosperous future.

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