Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Global pandemic means 4 out of every 10 children in Afghanistan now need some kind of humanitarian support, Save the Children said.
Save the Children in a press release said that COVID-19 is exacting a heavy toll on already struggling families across Afghanistan. An estimated 8.12 million children – or 4 in 10 – will need some form of emergency assistance in 2020.
Earlier this year Save the Children warned that an estimated 5.26 million children in Afghanistan would need help to survive in 2020. Since the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on Afghan public services, access to healthcare, and the economy, all of which are heavily reliant on foreign aid, the number of children needing life-saving support is spiking.
The latest UN estimates suggest 14 million people in Afghanistan – nearly 40 percent of the population – now need help to survive this year, up from 9.4 million just six months ago – that’s nearly a 50 percent increase since December 2019.
COVID-19 in Afghanistan is having a catastrophic impact on millions of vulnerable families. Preliminary World Bank estimates show that the pandemic and related containment measures are leading to massive disruptions to imports including vital household items, which in turn is leading to rapid inflation. Border closures have also meant a drastic reduction in exports and a sharp decline in remittances.
Large sections of the population depend on casual labour and jobs that are particularly vulnerable to lockdowns and social distancing measures, such as working in markets and selling goods in shops and on the street. Even before COVID-19 emerged, 93 percent of Afghan households survived on less than $2 per day so the vast majority of families have virtually no capacity to absorb the economic shock of COVID-19 and the resulting loss of livelihoods. Meanwhile, the price of staple foods, such as flour, pulses, rice, cooking oil and sugar continue to increase, making it harder and harder for families to feed themselves.
The EU’s diplomatic chief has voiced “serious concern” at moves by US President Donald Trump to sanction any International Criminal Court officials who investigate US troops.
Ramping up pressure for the Hague-based court to stop its probe of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, Trump issued an executive order to block all US property and assets of anyone involved in probing or prosecuting American forces.
“For sure this is a matter of serious concern because we as the European Union are steadfast supporters of the International Criminal Court,” EU foreign affairs high representative Josep Borrell told reporters.
“The court has been playing a key role in providing international justice and addressing the gravest international crimes — it is a key factor in bringing justice and peace. It must be respected and supported by all nations.”
Borrell said he would study Trump’s order further to assess its implications, and the matter may be discussed by EU foreign ministers when they hold video talks on Monday.
The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has sent a written message to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, pertaining to bilateral ties, the means to enhance and develop them, and Qatar’s support for the peace, stability, and national reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The message was delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, during a meeting with Ghani in Kabul.
Al-Qahtani conveyed the greetings of His Amir to Ghani, and his wishes to the people of Afghanistan of further progress and prosperity.
The Afghan president entrusted al-Qahtani to convey his greetings to the Amir, and his wishes of health and happiness, and the Qatari people constant prosperity and development.
US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who met with Afghan leaders this week, said the intra-Afghan negotiations between the Afghan government’s team and the Taliban “must begin immediately,” and adding that the prisoner releases, which are a precursor for start of the talks, have reached a new milestone.
“We welcome the government now having exceeded 3,000 Talib prisoners released and the Taliban 500+. It is important that the process continues, and the prisoners release roadblock resolved,” Khalilzad said.
He said that “the Afghan-owned, Afghan-led negotiations between the inclusive Islamic Republic team and the Taliban negotiating team must begin immediately thereafter. From the start, getting to intra-Afghan negotiations (IAN) has been a key objective of our diplomacy.”
“We welcome the Taliban statement specifying they will participate in intra-Afghan negotiations within one week of the prisoner release commitment outlined in our agreement. Although many practical details need to be worked out, these developments are all very positive,” he said.
Khalilzad added that the US welcomes the Taliban statement specifying they will participate in IAN within one week of the prisoner release commitment outlined in our agreement.
The Coronavirus infection toll hit 23,546 as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that 656 people have tested positive over the past 24 hours.
The MoPH announced 20 people are known to have died from the virus and as many as 602 patients have recovered. The country’s total number of deaths stands at 446, while the number of recoveries is 3,928.
New lab-tested samples showed 326 people had been infected in Kabul, 19in Herat, 16 in Nangarhar, 13 people in Badghis, 73 in Ghazni, 37 people in Balkh, 20 people in Nimroz, 18 in Laghman, 10 in Kunar, 17 in Faryab, 12 Baghlan, 10 Sar-e Pul, 8 people in Helmand and five people in each provinces of Samangan and Farah.
The MoPH is urging Afghans to follow measures to prevent the spread as the number of cases continue to rise.