Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
“As a country which has been warmly hosting millions of Afghan immigrants for four decades, propaganda campaign against Iran is not acceptable,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
Mousavi was reacting to Sunday’s protest rallies near Iranian embassies in Afghanistan, the U.S. and U.K. over the treatment of Afghan migrants and refugees in Iran.
“We have always wanted stability and peace in Afghanistan. However, it does not mean the Islamic Republic would close eyes on illegal actions,” Mousavi thundered.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had summoned the Afghan Ambassador to Tehran Abdul Ghafoor Lival to lodge an official protest against the actions of “anti-Iran” groups in Kabul.
Mousavi said they “gave a warning” to Lival that “such actions, insults and offenses are intolerable.”
He said Afghans crossing over are often “deceived by traffickers” and enter the country illegally and that is not condoned by Iran.
He was responding to the drowning of around 50 Afghan migrants in the Harirud river in early May. Iranian officials and border guards said the incident had taken place of the Afghan side of the river.
Iran’s delegation at the joint investigation said the reports of the incident were incorrect and it had not occurred on the mentioned date and location as cited by Afghanistan. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for International and Legal Affairs Mohsen Baharvand blamed human traffickers for the tragedy.
Then on June 3, Afghan migrants were killed in a car fire in Yazd province, Iran, as they tried to flee from a security checkpoint.
The Afghan Ambassador to Tehran Abdul Ghafoor Lival investigated the incident and said, “We believe that human traffickers and the driver are responsible for the incident” and the driver has been identified.
An Afghan man was rescued by a Kazakh teen who noticed him drowning in Sairan Lake in the capital Almaty.
The city’s Department of Emergency Situations said the man was identified as Ahmadi Zaman Muhammad, born in 1977.
The Kazakh teen Duisesh Margulan, 18, was resting at the lakeshore when he noticed Muhammad struggling in the water.
Muhammad was taken to the No. 7 Hospital, one of the largest in the city.
Democratic Senators Jack Reed and Robert Menendez wrote a letter asking Pentagon about the $1 billion cut in aid for Afghanistan that the administration had announced three months ago, reports Reuters.
The letter, which Reuters accessed, was addressed to U.S. Defence Secretary Mike Esper, and asked him if the funds had been cut and if so, then from which accounts.
They also asked whether the funding cuts would “impact the U.S. military presence on the ground in Afghanistan” and asked for the conditions which led to the creation of “sizeable surplus” if their national security objectives were not being compromised.
They requested a response by June 26.
In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had vowed to cut funding “immediately” in an attempt to bring then-warring Afghan leaders Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to an agreement.
A European Union (EU) Humanitarian Air Bridge flight will deliver 100 tons of materials to bolster Afghanistan’s pandemic response.
The EU is also providing a new aid package of €39 million to the country. The monetary amount is to be directed towards the COVID-19 efforts as well as to help the victims of war, forced displacement and natural disasters in the country.
Janez Lenarcic, the commissioner for Crisis Management, said: “At this difficult time, the EU continues to stand by the most vulnerable in Afghanistan… With this air bridge, the EU is delivering vital assistance such as food, nutrition, water, shelter to ensure aid reaches as many people as possible and to help support the people of Afghanistan.”
The Air Bridge project is part of EU’s global Coronavirus response whereas the EU-funded Emergency Response Mechanism has been helping internally-displace people across Afghanistan.
The EU has provided humanitarian operations in Afghanistan since 1992, providing close to €935 million to date.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced its decision to end activities and withdraw from Dasht-e-Barchi in Kabul, following the brutal attack on the maternity wing on 12 May, in which 16 mothers were systematically shot dead. An MSF midwife, two children aged 7 and 8, and six other people present at the time of the attack were also killed.
MSF in a press release said that the decision comes with the understanding that while no information has emerged about the perpetrators or motive of the assault, mothers, babies and health staff were the deliberate targets of the attack, and that similar attacks may occur in the future.
“A month after the horrifying event, we know very little; the attack remains unclaimed. Afghan authorities blamed the Taliban – or Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – who refuted and condemned the accusation, while representatives of foreign governments publicly pointed their finger at radical groups as perpetrators, namely Islamic State in Khorasan group,” the press release reads.
“We were aware that our presence in Dasht-e-Barchi carried risks, but we just couldn’t believe that someone would take advantage of the absolute vulnerability of women about to give birth to murder them and their babies,” says Thierry Allafort-Duverger, MSF Director General. “But it did happen.”
“Today, we have to accept reality: higher walls and thicker security doors won’t prevent such horrific assaults from happening again,” says Allafort-Duverger. “To remain would mean to factor in such loss of human lives as a parameter of our activity, and this is unthinkable.”
“The end of MSF’s activities in the maternity wing of Dasht-e-Barchi hospital is a necessary but painful decision, fraught with consequences for more than one million people who live in the area. Most of them are from the Hazara community, a historically marginalised and poor population, many of whom were displaced by decades of conflict,” the press release added.
MTN Group Limited, a South African multinational mobile company has been alleged to have aided the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The company’s stakeholders have urged MTN to resolve these allegations with full transparency as this could potentially blacklist them.
An amended lawsuit filed last week by families of U.S. soldiers alleged that MTN helped militant groups in Afghanistan and paid them protection money.
It said MTN’s “conduct targeted the U.S.” by working in unstable countries that were not U.S.-allies.
The original lawsuit was filed in December 2019 and aimed at eight multinational companies that operated in Afghanistan and Iran between 2009 and 2017.
MTN said it was reviewing the charges but maintained that their conduct of business was in a responsible manner.
The Dogharoun border crossing gate has been reopened for trucks and there is no obstacle to transit trade reports the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
A day after news reported that thousands of trucks had been stopped at the Iranian side of the border, officials said the transit gates had opened on Sunday.
Mohammad Reza Mes Foroush, the director of Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Industry, Mine and Trade Department Mohammad said that passenger traffic will still not be continued at that crossing due to protocols against the spread of COVID-19.
However, the exchange of goods will continue.
Protestors in the capitals of U.S. and U.K. took to the streets on Sunday, demanding justice for Afghan migrants and refugees who were killed in two separate incidents in Iran since May.
The protestors used the now viral hashtags #AfghanLivesMatter and #I Am Burning as they spoke against the car fire that killed three in Iran’s Yazd province and the Harirud incident where 49 Afghan migrants were thrown into a river along the border.
In Washington D.C., U.S. protestors marched, recited poetry against oppression and requested the relevant authorities to not let the incident pass without punishing the culprits.
Thousands in London, U.K., rallied outside the Iranian embassy chanting slogans and condemning the “barbaric” actions against Afghans. The three-hour protests also saw requests for international authorities to step in and probe the incidents.
The Afghan government had setup an investigation panel however it yielded no results with the officials claiming that human traffickers were to blame for the drowning incident while the driver of the car was held responsible for the car fire.
Tehran’s foreign ministry raised concerns about similar protests outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul and summoned the Afghan envoy to Iran Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, to lodge a formal protest against the demonstrations.
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted and said theu would be sending an official delegation to Iran to resolve the tensions.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 761 new cases of Coronavirus have registered in the past 24 hours. The country’s total confirmed cases reached 25,527.
Shafiqullah Shahim, deputy minister of finance and administration, said seven patients had died over the past day and the death toll had risen to 478.
New cases have been reported in Kabul (237), Kunduz (113), Logar (103), Takhar (93), Parwan (37), Wardak (30), Kandahar (25), Nangarhar (22), Panjshir (16), Bamyan (15), Paktia (15), Baghlan (14), Uruzgan (12), Badakhshan (11), Daykundi (10), Nuristan (4) and Kunduz (4).
Closing of Herat’s only lab has seen no cases reported from the province over the past four days.
Last night, 365 patients had recovered, taking those figures to 5,090 recovered cases.
As the virus spreads and death tolls climb, the MoPH had said they have run out of tests and “lack capacity” to manage more cases.
Provincial officials said at least four members of the public uprising forces and 11 Taliban were killed in clashes on Sunday night in Kapisa.
The head of Kapisa’s provincial council, Mohammad Hussain Sanjini said armed Taliban members had attacked several security checkpoints of the public uprising forces in Tagab district and had taken over 12 more checkpoints.
“Clashes are still ongoing in the area… Taliban have also advanced to the centre of the district,” Sanjini said
During the clashes, another 11 public uprising forces and 18 Taliban were also wounded.
No confirmation has come yet from the Taliban and local security forces.
In a bid to increase their economic relations, Iran and Afghanistan are looking into expanding their customs cooperation and as a result, foreign trade between them.
The head of the Iran’s Customs Administration (IRICA) Mehdi Mirashrafi met with Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tehran Abdul Ghafoor Lival to discuss these issues and opportunities for bilateral investments.
Over $2 billion worth of exports from Afghanistan entered Iran last year, IRICA reports.
Five members of a family, including three children, were killed and three more injured when gunmen entered their house in Khost province on Sunday night.
A spokesman for the provincial police said the incident took place in Ismail Khil district, close to Khost city.
The dead include a man, woman and three children.
The police are investigating the attack.
The Islamabad government has finally opened the border crossings for Afghan goods with some new restrictions, more than three months after closing it.
Pakistani officials announced that they will allow only 100 trucks a day to enter from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Once the transfer of goods has been completed, the trucks can then be used by Afghan traders to export to Pakistan and then on to India.
Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Pakistan had closed Spin-Boldak and Torkham border crossings for Afghan traders while continuing to send in Pakistani goods through the now one-way gate.
This had severely crippled Afghani businessmen in addition to the damage wrought by the pandemic.
Afghanistan Traders’ Union said their members had reported losses of up to $100 million in revenue in what was supposed to be their most lucrative season – the harvest time.
Afghan traders a the Commerce and Industris Chamber said this measure by Pakistan was their way of limiting Afghan exports and have called it against international trade laws.
New polio cases were detected in provinces where cases had not been reported for up to five years and had been previously free of the life-threatening disease.
Mir Jan Rasekh, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Polio Eradication Public Awareness Programme said the disease re-emerged after immunisation programmes were halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic in the provinces of Balkh, Herat and Badakhshan.
The three provinces reported a single case each.
“We had worked hard for years and cornered polio to a limited geography,” he said.
Though only 14 cases were reported nationwide this year, it is the location which has sparked concern.
“The Coronavirus has helped polio spread beyond its endemic region of south and southeast, and now threatens people across the country,” added Rasekh.
Afghanistan is one of only three nations in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Pakistan and Nigeria.
Each year, up to 10 nationwide immunisation drives are usually completed in Afghanistan. However, due to the lockdowns, only two missions were carried out.
The Taliban still bans authorities from conducting campaigns in areas which they control.