Catriona Laing » UK Senior Representative, Southern Afghanistan

My Final Blog as Head of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team

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Eighteen months ago I flew into Helmand Province pondering on what lay ahead for me. I was excited and daunted at the same time. I knew then that it would be a life changing experience and so it has proved to be. It has been challenging, inspiring, fun, and of course frustrating at times – but persistence has paid off and all the hard work has delivered concrete results. During … Read more »My Final Blog as Head of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, visits the Helmand PRT

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Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, flew in to Lashkar Gah on 27 August to see for himself the progress which international forces and the Afghan authorities have made in bringing security, stability and prosperity to Helmand. As holder of the British Government purse-strings it’s important that he satisfies himself with the impact the British contribution has made here. Fortunately, the meetings he had, and the Afghan representatives he … Read more »Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, visits the Helmand PRT

Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Hosts Last Iftar Dinner Before Draw Down

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The PRT hosted a traditional ‘Iftar’ dinner recently which was attended by a diverse mix of 50 local Afghan dignitaries, including Provincial Governor Naeem, district governors, government officials, security leaders, mullahs and ulema, as well as international officials and staff from the PRT and our military colleagues (ISAF). The mixture of Afghan, PRT and ISAF personnel in attendance embodied the collegiate spirit and close working relationships between local Afghans and … Read more »Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Hosts Last Iftar Dinner Before Draw Down

Prime Minister Cameron Praises the Achievements of Staff at the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

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David Cameron visited the Helmand PRT on Saturday 29th June as part of a grueling three country tour also taking in Pakistan and Kazakhstan. His day in Afghanistan started at 06.30 at Camp Bastion, took in a Forward Operating Base just outside Lashkar Gah, a visit to Main Operating Base Lashkar Gar (where the PRT is based), and then on to lunch in Kabul with President Karzai. The PM was … Read more »Prime Minister Cameron Praises the Achievements of Staff at the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

FCO Human Resources Director visits Helmand PRT

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I recently visited the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah. As the Foreign Office HR Director, I often feel that I need to get out more. It’s easy to get stuck behind my desk in London, thinking about our global workforce (over 14,000 staff in 270 posts around the world). But I get a fresh perspective by getting out and talking to our staff about what’s on their minds. Read more »FCO Human Resources Director visits Helmand PRT

Update: Women Register to Vote in Municipal Advisory Board Elections

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Following on from my previous blog “A Generational Change Plays Out as Women in Helmand Register to Vote in Local Elections” I am delighted to report the success of the 15 June Municipal Advisory Board (MAB) election. 525 women voted representing the largest turn out of female voters in a local election in Helmand. 4 seats were reserved for women and 5 female candidates stood. The 4 selected will have … Read more »Update: Women Register to Vote in Municipal Advisory Board Elections

A Generational Change Plays Out as Women in Helmand Register to Vote in Local Elections

Feature image for:  A Generational Change Plays Out as Women in Helmand Register to Vote in Local Elections

I attend many public gatherings known as ‘shuras’ in Helmand. The one I was invited to address on Monday was however different in that it was for women and run by women. I came away feeling we had reached a really important milestone in the tough journey women face in Helmand. The aim of this shura was to alert women in Helmand to the upcoming Municipal Advisory Board (MAB) election … Read more »A Generational Change Plays Out as Women in Helmand Register to Vote in Local Elections

British Ambassador Visits Nad-e Ali District

British Ambassador meets District Governor of Nad-e Ali

I accompanied my Ambassador Sir Richard Stagg on a visit to Nad-e Ali District in Helmand Province on Thursday 30th May. Arriving at Forward Operating Base Shawqat we were warmly welcomed by the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Neil Unsworth OBE and staff of 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, who delivered a very positive ‘lie of the land’ District brief. He illustrated progress through the eyes of soldiers from … Read more »British Ambassador Visits Nad-e Ali District

Huge support for Helmand community elections

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Residents of a key district in Afghanistan have participated in huge numbers as registration for the District Community Council (DCC) elections began yesterday. More than 2000 people from Nad-e Ali in Helmand province attended a district Shura (meeting) led by Provincial Governor Naeem Baluch and supported by community leaders. The District Governor, Mohammad Ibrahm, opened the meeting with a speech recognising the contribution and good work of elected DCC members … Read more »Huge support for Helmand community elections

Prime Minister of Denmark visits Helmand PRT

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The Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt has visited Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah for an update on progress. The visit was the premier’s second since she took office in 2011. The Prime Minister expressed her gratitude and pride of the Danish military and civilian staff in Helmand. She stressed that Denmark will be engaged in Afghanistan after 2014 but with more focus on civilian and development efforts. … Read more »Prime Minister of Denmark visits Helmand PRT