Dushanbe, 18 May 2016
“Operation Building Bridges 2016”
As part of UNDP’s EU-BOMNAF project’s aims to improve cross-border cooperation, collaboration and communication between Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbours, the project facilitated and supported a one-week joint field mission for senior officers from the Tajikistan Border Force (TBF) and Afghanistan Border Police (ABP), together with representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries, to travel together along the Tajik-Afghan border.
The primary aim of the event was to provide an opportunity for senior officers of the Afghanistan Border Police to meet their counterparts in the Tajikistan Border Force, within an operational environment, in the field, along the Afghan-Tajik border.
Despite organisational and logistical challenges caused by floods and mudslides which destroyed roads, houses and infrastructure along the roads between Dushanbe and Badakhshan, the eighteen members of “Operation Building Bridges” successfully visited four Border Crossing Points (BCP) and two potential sites for new Border Crossing Points. The officers involved discussed issues of mutual concern, shared ideas to improve cooperation and had cultural and sport events such as a football match, played in Darvoz, between their own teams.
Headed by the Deputy Commanders of the ABP and TBF, delegates of both countries gave high importance to the event, which strengthened links between officers from border agencies in both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, thereby promoting an exchange of information between the two countries. In addition, discourse was exchanged on issues such as counter-terrorism, narcotics trafficking, migration, improvement of cross-border trade and acceleration of regional development while maintaining regional security.
General Mohammad Isa Eftikhary, ABP Deputy Commander, expressed gratitude to the Tajik side for allowing the use of their territory for transit of goods, as well as regular access provided to ABP personnel and local villagers for medical reasons. Northern Afghanistan has few roads and no transport links to regional centres and this issue creates major problems for getting treatment for sick people who live within Afghanistan’s borderlands communities, who lack their own medical facilities. He expressed hope that the good cross-border cooperation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan will not only be continued, but also strengthened.
Colonel Lutfullo Zaynullaev, TBF Deputy Commander, in his turn stressed the importance of communication between the border guards of both sides to ensure security and stability of the region.
The overall objective of the European Union's assistance to Afghanistan is to foster regional cooperation and enable Afghanistan to facilitate secure trade links within its neighbourhood, especially Central Asia. The BOMNAF project is a component of a larger Regional Cooperation Programme of assistance agreed between the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan, and complements other programmes in Afghanistan, in Tajikistan and in Central Asia.