Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Almost 12% of the American soldiers posted in Afghanistan have had suicidal thoughts at least once in their lives. More to the point, 3% thought of suicide at least once over the past year, and almost 2% over the last month, according to the questionnaires filled in by a sample of soldiers midway through their stay in that country, in 2012.
The rate of suicide is much higher among soldiers in combat compare to those who were never deployed.
After returning from deployment, 5 participants attempted suicide, with 2 attempting in Afghanistan and 3 in the 12 months after deployment. Among the 3,872 control soldiers, none attempted suicide in Afghanistan and 6 attempted within 12 months after deployment.
The midpoint of deployment was chosen for assessment of soldiers’ self-reported suicidal ideation and mental health disorders because that is when risk for suicide attempts appears to peak.
The authors report risk factors associated with recent suicidal thoughts during deployment included race (being white) and previous major depressive disorders and non-combat trauma. A substantial proportion of deployed soldiers with suicide ideation did not report any mental health disorders.
The crucial importance of Afghan women’s meaningful participation in peace efforts, locally and nationally, was the focus of two UN-backed events in the southeast capital of Khost province.
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) the events each drew 30 women from districts across Khost to meet with provincial leaders and discuss ways to empower women in Afghanistan’s southeast region and strengthen their involvement in peace efforts and the national development agenda.
Participants at the events expressed concern that while women continue to be severely affected by Afghanistan’s armed conflict, their contributions to peace are limited to symbolic roles, UNAMA said.
“Women make up half the population of Afghanistan and are among the most affected by the conflict,” said one participant from Khost’s capital city. “We want to be included in peace discussions, and we want our voices to be heard.”
“In the lively discussions, participants underscored the need for deliberate measures to improve women’s participation in peace efforts and other aspects of Afghanistan’s social and political life. They focused on the need for increased education opportunities and the importance of raising awareness, across the nation, about protecting women’s rights,” it added.
A Dartmouth-led study finds that two common economic interventions in Afghanistan designed to improve economic livelihoods and win the “hearts of minds” of civilians was ineffective in reducing support for the Taliban in the long run.
The study is the first to examine how cash transfers and vocational training administered by a humanitarian organization affect combatant support in an active conflict zone. The findings are published in American Political Science Review.
Working with Mercy Corps, the Dartmouth-led research team assessed how vulnerable youth’s political attitudes towards the Afghan government and Taliban was affected by two economic interventions: job training and cash.
The program, Introducing New Vocational Education and Skills Training (INVEST), was designed to help lift at-risk youth (age 20+) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, out of poverty and minimize the likelihood that they would join the insurgency.
Approximately 2,600 Afghan men and women (average age of 20), took part in the study. Nearly 80 percent had shared Pashtun ethnicity with the Taliban, and just over half of them had experienced forced displacement in the past by either the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force or Taliban.
Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov has met Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas in Berlin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan said.
The Foreign Ministers discussed prospects of bilateral cooperation in trade, investments, culture, education and science.
Cooperation in regulation of the situation in Afghanistan in various formats was discussed among other issues.
The upcoming visits at various levels, relevant regional and international issues were considered.
The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project has faced another delay in Afghanistan over a postponement in land acquisition, among other issues, according to local authorities.
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said that some required letters have not been signed and according to the Natural Resources Monitoring Network, construction on the project will be delayed for another 6 months.
“There is a need for the approval of the law (on land acquisition) but there are delays because the MPs are busy in (discussing) former decrees by the President. I think it will take six months to pass this phase,” said Ibrahim Jafarai, a member of the Natural Resources Monitoring Network.
Work on the $8 billion pipeline project began in Afghanistan in February 2018. At least 816 km of the total 1,814-km-long pipeline will pass through Afghanistan.
When the project’s agreement was signed in 2015, the work on Afghanistan’s part was scheduled for 2017. Last year, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said work on the project will begin at the beginning of 2020.
Afghanistan has appreciated Turkey’s continued support and efforts for the peace process in the war-ravaged country, an Afghan official said.
“The State Minister for Peace appreciates Turkey’s continued support and efforts on peace and we will continue to engage with all our partners, particularly through the Peace Support Group”, said Abdul Salam Rahimy, the Afghan president’s special representative and state minister for peace, in a tweet.
This came after Rahimy held a meeting with the Turkish Ambassador in Kabul Oğuzhan Ertuğrul on Jan. 29.
The invigorated yet delicate peace talks in Afghanistan face a gridlock as the warring parties fail to reach consensus on the way forward.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced that the education minister, Muhammad Mirwais Balkhi received the Distinguished Alumni Award 2019 from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Alumni (ICCR).
According to a statement by MoE, the former deputy of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Muqadesa Yourish has also received the same award from ICCR.
The statement said that the award is given annually to the scholarship holders of the ICCR who have achieved high positions in their country.
In the meantime, Taher Ghaderi, Afghan Charge d’Affaires and a group of diplomats from the Afghan embassy in Delhi have welcomed Mr. Balkhi and Ms. Yourish at the embassy and congratulated them on this achievement.
Foreign fighters from countries including Canada were captured during an operation against IS-K in Afghanistan last November, according to a report to the United Nations Security Council.
The report said the Afghan security forces and Taliban had dealt a severe blow to the ISIS Khorasan group, or ISIL-K, displacing it from large parts of Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border.
“More than 1,400 people surrendered to the Afghan authorities, including dependants of ISIL-K fighters,” the report said.
“Most males were Afghan nationals, but there were also foreign nationals from Azerbaijan, Canada, France, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.”
The Jan. 20 report by the team that monitors UN sanctions against ISIS is the first indication that Canadians may have fought with the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
US Chargé d’affaires Ross Wilson has called on the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) to work in a coordinate and transparent manner.
“We call on IEC and IECC to work in a coordinated and transparent manner to give voters confidence in the outcome,” Mr. Wilson said in a tweet.
He also emphasized that protecting democracy requires participation, respect for laws, and vigilance.
This comes as the IEC officials have previously criticized the IECC of not cooperating with the commission.
The Pentagon has released the names of the two Air Force members who were killed in a jet crash in Afghanistan earlier this week.
Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, of Hudson, N.H., died in the crash of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan Monday.
Voss was assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and Phaneuf was assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, the US Department of Defense said.
On Tuesday U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett announced via Twitter that U.S. Navy forces had recovered the remains of the two Airmen and recovered the aircraft flight data recorder, then destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.