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This content was published in the period between 9 July 2021 and 30 November 2021

Sweden’s engagement in Afghanistan


Developments in Afghanistan are extremely serious. Lives, and the advances made in the last 20 years, are under threat. The Swedish evacuation at Kabul Airport has been completed. Sweden’s commitment to the Afghan people remains steadfast.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Evacuation from Kabul

The evacuation coordinated by Swedish diplomats and other posted officials at a chaotic Kabul airport has been exceptional. This difficult undertaking requiring close cooperation with other countries resulted in the evacuation of more than 1 100 people.

Sweden has evacuated all of the Embassy’s locally employed staff and guards and their families, as well as more than 500 Swedish citizens.

In addition, a number of former local employees who had worked for the Swedish ISAF forces up to 31 December 2014 were evacuated with their families, alongside human rights defenders, journalists and EU staff and their families.

Development cooperation

Sweden has longstanding and deep engagement in Afghanistan and for the Afghan people. That engagement remains steadfast. Since 2013, Afghanistan has been the largest recipient country of Swedish development assistance. Under the development assistance strategy, Sweden was due to contribute almost SEK 3.3 billion between 2021 and 2024. Following the Taliban takeover, Sweden will have to redirect parts of this assistance.

The international presence up to this summer provided the conditions for prioritised development initiatives, including support to girls’ education, better infrastructure, institution-building and health care. These remain important priorities.

The EU and international cooperation

The international community must continue to strive for peace, democracy and human rights – including women’s and girls’ enjoyment of human rights – in Afghanistan. In collaboration with our partners – primarily the EU, the US, the UN and NATO – we will analyse developments to see what lessons we can learn.

In the EU, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde has emphasised the importance of continued EU engagement for the Afghan people, not least by pursuing international humanitarian law violations and human rights abuses. Generous EU humanitarian assistance is crucial.

Swedish support to Afghanistan is also channelled through the UN. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has confirmed that the UN intends to remain in Afghanistan to provide assistance for as long as possible. He has expressed particular concern over the situation of women and girls. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and its partners continue to provide humanitarian assistance on the ground in the provinces. 

Military engagement

Sweden contributed to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. When ISAF became the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in 2015, Sweden was involved from the start until the end of May 2021, when the last Swedish troops left the country. Since 25 May 2021, there has been no Swedish military presence in Afghanistan.