Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will today launch a photographic exhibition, Through Australian Eyes, which recognises the significant contribution of Australian civilians working in Afghanistan.
Mr Rudd welcomes the exhibition, which emphasises the important role development assistance and diplomacy plays in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the security gains being made in Afghanistan.
Mr Rudd will tonight pay tribute to the 28 staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAID who have served in Uruzgan province, where Australian efforts are focused, as well as in Kabul and Kandahar.
Mr Rudd will present plaques to Australian civilian staff, thanking them for their dedication and service in tough and often dangerous conditions.
“On my many visits to Afghanistan, I have seen the professionalism, good humour and grit of all Australian personnel working there, both military and civilian,” Mr Rudd said.
“There are few places in the world that offer Australian Government personnel an assignment as important, demanding or rewarding as service in Afghanistan.
“The conditions they face are challenging and entail risks. The fact that we are making real progress on the ground lays clear testimony to the outstanding quality of their work as well as their personal courage and determination.”
Australia has worked with other international donors and development partners to support the building of more than 800 schools across Afghanistan, and the training of more than 45,000 teachers.
“School enrolments have increased from a mere one million in 2001 under Taliban rule to more than six million today and, of those, more than two million are girls,” Mr Rudd said.
“Basic healthcare is now available to 85 per cent of the population, up from just 10 per cent under the Taliban regime.”
For reproduction quality images from the photographic exhibition, please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ausaid_photolibrary/sets/72157626311440388/
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