Red Cross welcomes Government of Canada legislative reforms to allow Canadian aid to Afghanistan

Ottawa | March 09, 2023

The Canadian Red Cross welcomes the introduction of An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which seeks to amend the Criminal Code to allow for the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance by Canadian aid organizations. This is a critical and important step forward in protecting the provision of neutral and impartial, life-saving humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and other complex contexts. 

The proposed legislative change will bring Canada into alignment with other nations including the United States of America, Australia, and the United Kingdom, all of which have made legislative and regulatory changes to remove barriers to international assistance in Afghanistan and other similar contexts.

This is an important first step in allowing Canadian aid organizations to resume activities to help meet the basic human needs of the Afghan people, including women and girls who are disproportionately impacted, without fear of prosecution. Going forward, the measures outlined in the proposed legislative change will allow Canadian aid organizations to reach people in need regardless of where they live, while updating our legal framework to continue to protect the security of Canadians. 

Together with our sector partners, including the Aid for Afghanistan Coalition, the Canadian Red Cross remains committed to working with all partners to codify the protection of humanitarian and life-saving assistance within regulatory regimes, including participating in continued dialogue on sanctions in all complex situations.

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