Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Minister of Public Health, Firozuddin Firoz says the Coronavirus is spreading very fast, but is less deadly than the Mers virus.
The Health Minister delivered his speech at the first inter-institutional committee meeting to prevent the transmission and control of Coronavirus which was held on Saturday with the aim of further coordination for preventing the virus.
During the meeting, Dr. Firoz and the Afghan doctors have focused on how to prevent and control the spread of Coronavirus in Afghanistan, raising the public awareness about symptoms of the virus and how to transfer Afghan students and their families from the city of Wuhan.
The Health Minister called the creation of the committee necessary to further cooperate in preventing the spread and control of the Coronavirus.
According to the Ministry of Public Health information, the Committee comprises the Ministries of Public Health, Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education, Agriculture, Information and Culture, Industry and Commerce, Rural Rehabilitation, Higher Education and Transport and a number of other government institutions.
Following the first reports of cases of acute respiratory syndrome in the Chinese Wuhan municipality at the end of December 2019, Chinese authorities have identified a novel coronavirus as the main causative agent.
The outbreak has rapidly evolved affecting other parts of China and outside the country. Cases have now been detected in several countries in Asia, but also in Australia, Europe and North America.
The 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
The Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) in its new research said that 65 percent of Afghan people have no access to electricity due to the lack of an effective governance structure in the energy sector.
Based on the new report of IWA, the severe electricity shortages in cities and villages have slowed overall economic growth, air pollution and deforestation in villages.
In 2015, however, the Afghan government pledged to boost electricity access to 80 percent in urban areas and 50 percent in rural areas.
The per capita consumption of electricity in Afghanistan is 186 kW as the worldwide per capita consumption is 3126 kW and in South Asia is 707 kW.
“The Afghan government does not have a clear, evidence-based view of governance in the Afghan energy sector, which has slowed the growth of the energy sector, slowing the country’s economy, and creating grounds for corruption,” Sayed Akram Afzali, Chief Executive of IWA said in a press conference in Kabul.
According to the research, the Ministry of Energy and Water is not yet ready to execute the executive duties of the Afghan Water and Power Engineering Company in accordance with the law regulating electricity services to related departments, including the Breshna Company.
“Low human capacity, overlap in policies and missions, ambiguity in the role of ministries and international development partners, incompatibility and inconsistency in the development plans and needs of the Afghan government are the main challenges in the energy sector,” Afzali added.
This comes as Afghanistan has nine power islands that among those that are outside the state power, there are small electricity sources which have been formed by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says at least 50 civilians including 17 children were killed and wounded by airstrikes during the past month in January 2020.
AIHRC in its recent report has cited about seven air operations during the January 2020 which were conducted in Herat, Farah, Laghman, Balkh, Kunduz, Badghis and Uruzgan provinces.
“At least 26 civilians were killed and 24 others were wounded in these airstrikes,” the report said.
According to the report, 17 children, five women and four men are among the killed and 19 men, three children and two women are among the injured.
The report’s findings indicate that most of the civilians were killed in Resolute Support forces’ airstrikes.
The Germany’s Federal Foreign Office has supported Skateistan from the outset: it provided funding for the construction of a skate hall with a half pipe and ramps when the first school was set up, and is financing the further development of the new school in Bamiyan, where a dedicated building is to be constructed in 2020.
In 2007, Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich arrived in Afghanistan equipped with three skateboards.
It was not long until he saw the enthusiastic response to the skateboards in Kabul: they held a magical attraction for boys and girls of all ages. The idea for Skateistan was born.
The first Skateistan school opened in Kabul in 2009, followed later by another in Mazar-e-Sharif. Since August 2019, there has been a third school, in Bamiyan.
In the Skateistan schools, the students spend part of the time in the halfpipe, and part of the time in the classroom.
The majority of the children come from poor families, and some of them have had to flee conflict and violence.
The skate schools give them access to both sport and education. For many of them, this is their first taste of school.
The Acting Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid and the Resolute Support Commander General Scott Miller visited Herat province on Thursday, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
MoD in a statement said that Mr. Khalid along with Gen. Miller met Maj. Gen. Zabihullah Mohmand, commander of the 207th Corps and dicussed the ongoing security operations in the province.
The officials also talked about the surrender of Taliban fighters to the Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) in Ghor and Herat provinces, the statement added.
Following the arrest of six senior Afghan Police officials in accusation of drug smuggling, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells urged the Afghan government to take action against the corrupt officials.
“Dispirited that six Afghan counter-narcotics police officials are allegedly involved in drug smuggling,” Wells said in a tweet.
She emphasized that the drug trade fuels instability and undermines good governance & development of Afghanistan’s economy.
This comes as six senior officials of the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan’s (CNPA) were arrested in accusation of drug trafficking on Thursday.
Oriental ceramics expert, Hanne Sutcliffe, will examine the Ancient Art of Afghanistan at Tennants Garden Rooms, Leyburn, on Tuesday, February 11.
The lecture for The Arts Society Wensleydale, considers the magnificent gold, silver, ivory, bronze and glass objects excavated in the kingdom of Bactria (ancient Afghanistan) that illustrate a unique fusion of Greek, Persian and Indian motifs.
Greek and Macedonian refugees fleeing the depredations of Alexander the Great settled there in c300 BC.
The exquisite archaeological finds range from Bronze Age gold and silver to first century AD carved ivory, along with 20,000 gold artefacts found in six tombs in Tillya Tepe, Northern Afghanistan.
This rich heritage was believed to have been lost after 30 years of war and anarchy.
It has subsequently toured the world – a magnificent cultural symbol of hope for the future of Afghanistan.
Afghan local officials have confirmed that at least one person was killed and seven others were wounded in a traffic accident in Ghazni province.
The office of Ghazni governor in a statement said that a Mazda type vehicle has collided with a 204 bus on Kabul-Kandahar highway near the Ghazni gate to Maidan Wardak.
According to the statement, the incident occurred as a result of drivers’ carelessness and disregarding for traffic laws.
The commander of the Operational Unit of Herat Police Headquarters, Ahmad Shah Jalali has been killed in Afghan National Army forces shooting, local officials confirmed.
The spokesman of Herat Police, Abdul Ahad Walizada told Reporterly, “Jalali was in his friend’s vehicle in Naw Abad area that was killed by ANA soldiers by mistake after he failed to stop the car at a security checkpoint on Friday night.”
Walizada noted that no other people were hurt in the incident.
This comes as the Herat Police commander, Aminullah Amar Khail has instructed the Police forces to shoot whoever that does not stop cars at the checkpoints.
The trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan has increased by 33 percent recently, Pakistani news agencies reported.
Last year Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had formally inaugurated the Integrated Transit Trade Management scheme 0n 18th of September to keep open the Pak-Afghan sharing Torkham border, for 7/24 hours.
Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muhammad Sadeeq while commenting his views said that trade had slightly raised and 30 to 35% improvement had noticed but it was just because of season perishable items like orange and vegetables otherwise no visible progress had made on nonperishable goods with implementation of round the clock opening of the border plan of the government.
Women in Balkh Province are becoming more interested in growing saffron with the help of the provincial government.
Currently, 270 farmers, including 90 women, are busy growing saffron plants on 270 jeribs (54 hectares) of land throughout 10 districts of Balkh Province, said Mohammad Salem Saayee, director of the Balkh Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department (BAILD).
“The saffron plant is grown in Balkh, Khulm, Sholgara, Chahar Bolak, Kishindih, Dawlatabad, Dehdadi, Nahr-e-Shahi and Zari districts,” Saayee said.
Poppy cultivation has been nil in the province over the last two years, according to Saayee.
Saffron has long been recognized as the most expensive spice on earth. Historically, saffron has been acknowledged for medicinal purposes for 4,000 years.
Several modern research studies hint that saffron has possible anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, and anti-oxidant properties.
India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has busted an international drug syndicate that operated from Afghanistan and seized 1.8kg high-quality heroin worth Rs 1.8 crore.
Six people including three Afghan nationals have been arrested, according to NCB officials.
The three Afghans were arrested at Indira Gandhi International Airport with 220 drug capsules stuffed in their stomach.
Zonal directore of NCB’s Delhi unit said the Afghans had been identified as Niamatullah Khaksar, Gul Ahmad and Sayed Mahmood Qitali.
The men, who travelled from Kabul in an Air Ariana flight, were taken for a medical examination during which the doctors found capsules in their stomach.
A US federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to end visa processing delays for hundreds of Afghan nationals who worked for U.S. forces, giving the government 30 days to propose a plan to end backlogs that have kept many waiting more than four years to enter the United States while facing persecution and death threats.
As per the Washington Post report, the ruling by U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Washington, D.C., granted class-action status to all applicants whose visa requests have been pending for more than nine months — a deadline set by statute — and followed a September opinion in which the judge called the government’s justification for delays “tortured and untenable.”
“Administrative challenges pale in comparison to the inefficiency, cost, and waste of resources that would result if each applicant (there are hundreds), were to bring individual claims,” Chutkan wrote. The burden of duplicative lawsuits would fall on the courts, the government and plaintiffs and their families, the judge wrote, whose lives “are at risk every day their applications are pending.”
The ruling could mark a watershed for thousands of people who worked for American troops and diplomats and coalition forces as interpreters and other roles since the 2001 and 2003 U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
US Congress recognized their sacrifice, creating a Special Immigrant Visa program allowing those who face persecution to seek resettlement in the United States.