Swedish aid agency ‘seeks dialogue’ with Taliban after suspension

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) has called for dialogue with the Taliban in order to clarify the directive issued on July 11 suspending all of Sweden’s activities in Afghanistan.

In a statement issued by the organization, the SCA said the directive will affect their operations even though it is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that was established in 1980 as a solidarity movement to support Afghanistan nationals’ “right to self-determination”.

“SCA is not a Swedish government entity, SCA is independent and impartial in relation to all political stakeholders and states and is funded by a broad range of donors. For over 40 years SCA has been working in close collaboration with the rural population and in deep respect of both Islam and local traditions in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

“SCA strongly condemns all acts of desecration of the Holy Quran, just as we condemn any attempt to create conflict or hostility between people based on religious belief, ethnicity, nationality, or any other division,” the organization stated.

The SCA’s statement comes in the wake of the Taliban’s order on Tuesday suspending all Swedish activity in Afghanistan. This was in response to the burning of the Holy Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm recently.

The Taliban said early Tuesday Sweden needs to comply with the directive and inform its relevant organizations of the suspension. The Taliban has also demanded an apology from Sweden for insulting the Holy Quran and the Muslim faith.

Apart from the SCA’s presence, Sweden maintains a limited footprint in Afghanistan after its diplomats and citizens were evacuated in August 2021. Its embassy has also remained closed.

However, the SCA is a key NGO in the country that provides critical assistance to millions of people in the country each year.

Last year, the organization assisted 2.5 million patients at its clinics in Wardak and Nuristan provinces. In addition, 133,000 children were provided education in SCA schools and more than 20,000 people with disabilities were supported by them.

Also, the SCA has around 8,000 local employees in 18 provinces.