Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Emirates has announced more repatriation flights from Dubai International Airport.
The airline will operate flights to Jakarta and Kabul. These services are for outbound travellers only, and are designed for foreigners trying to return home.
The Dubai airline will also operate outbound flights to Tunisia and Algeria. Specific flight dates for these destinations have still to be confirmed.
The airline continues to operate previously announced repatriation flights to London Heathrow and Frankfurt until April 19.
Afghanistan will fall into a deep recession this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the World Bank said on Saturday.
Afghanistan’s economy is expected to contract between 3.8 and 5.9 percent this year, the World Bank said in its South Asia Economic Forecast report. The bank had forecasted 3.3 percent growth for Afghanistan in 2020 at the beginning of the year.
According to the report, population will grow 2.3 percent in Afghanistan, which implies a dramatic drop in per capita income.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have major negative impacts on growth over 2020, due to border closures, reduced remittance flows, and economic disruptions associated with social distancing measures,” the report said on Afghanistan.
“Medium-term prospects remain highly vulnerable to political instability, worsening insecurity, and rapid declines in international grants,” according to the report. “Political negotiations with the Taliban present upside potential over the medium-term.”
Based on the report, fiscal pressures will increase as international grants decline gradually over time and due to the short-term impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Under baseline projections, the fiscal deficit for 2020 is projected to widen to 2.9 percent of GDP from 1.1 percent in 2019, due to increased public health expenditures and negative revenue impacts from COVID-19 related economic disruptions.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says at least 58 new cases of the coronavirus were registered in the country during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar in a press conference said that the new cases include 28 cases in Kandahar, 13 in Kabul, 7 in Helmand, 6 in Nimroz, 3 in Takhar and one in Kunduz.
Mayar added that the death toll from the coronavirus reaches to 21 and 38 recovered.
Officials at the Public Health department of Herat province say at least seven new cases of the coronavirus were recorded in the province during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of Herat Health Department, Muhammad Rafiq Sherzai said Monday that at least 28 samples of coronavirus were tested in the laboratories of the province which seven of them confirmed positive.
According to Shirzai, the seven cases include six men and one woman.
With the registration of the seven new cases, the number of confirmed cases in Herat reaches to 280.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches to 624 so far.
Officials at the Public Health department of Kandahar say at least 28 new cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the province.
The Health department of Kandahar in a press release said that the new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.
According to the press release, the number of infected patients with coronavirus reaches to 75 in Kandahar.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches to 635.
Following implementation of lockdown in Kabul, a number of residents of Kabul in particular street venders and laborers have expressed their concern over increasing poverty and hunger in the city as they lost their businesses in the city. They have asked the government to provide them with assistance.
Currently, Afghanistan government has approved a scheme worth 500 million AFG and tasked Kabul Governor to provide foodstuffs to laborers, streets venders and miserable families.
According to officials for Kabul Governor, miserable families, laborers and street venders will soon receive foodstuffs as flour, cooking oil, tea and sugar. Previously, Kabul local government, ministry of agriculture and Kabul municipality had distributed 50 kg wheat to each miserable family in Kabul city.
The National Security Council (NSC) says that the government of Afghanistan has released 361 Taliban prisoners so far.
“Afghan government has so far released 361 Taliban prisoners from Bagram prison, says Javid Faisal, a spokesman for NSC.
Faisal added that as per President Ghani’s decree, the releases will continue across other prisons to free a total of 1,500 as part of our efforts to advance peace and fight the coronavirus.
This comes as the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has welcomed the release of prisoners by both the Afghan government and the Taliban group.
An Indian ship on Sunday began its journey to Iran’s Chabahar port, carrying a major consignment for Afghanistan of wheat and anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“251 containers carrying the first consignment of 5,022 MT of wheat out of a total gift of 75,000 MT from India to Afghanistan set sail from the Kandla Port to the Chabahar Port today [on Sunday]. The remaining consignments will follow in the weeks ahead. India is gifting 5,00,000 tablets of HydroxyChloroquine to Afghanistan for health professionals and COVID-19 positive cases,” the Embassy of India in Kabul said in a post on social media.
The initiative comes a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video-conference with South Asian leaders, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, leading to the integration of Afghanistan in India’s regional strategy for the containment of the disease through the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
The use of the Chabahar port is being viewed as symbolically important as it is the first time India is using it for a humanitarian mission since the top leaders of Iran criticised India for the violence in Delhi during the last week of February that led to the killing and displacement of Muslim citizens.