Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in its annual report cited that the civilian casualties from the Afghan conflict declined by more than seven percent in 2019.
A total of 10,772 civilians were killed or injured in 2019, a 7.23 percent drop from the preceding year, the report said. That was made up of 2,817 killed and 7,955 injured.
Taliban were responsible for 71 percent of last year’s casualties while the Islamic State caused five percent. 14 percent of the casualties were caused by pro-government forces.
While overall casualties fell in 2019, women and children suffered more.
A total of 974 women casualties happened last year, compared to 912 in 2018. That was made up of 282 deaths and 692 injured.
The number of casualties among children was 2,696 (445 deaths and 2,251 injured).
The report stated that 803 civilians were killed and 2,333 more were wounded by IEDs. Casualties caused by suicide attacks dropped by 45 percent to 1,532.
A total of 750 civilian casualties (485 deaths and 265 wounded) happened due to airstrikes, a 21 percent drop compared with 956 in 2018.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports a protest by 30 Afghan media outlets about the government’s failure to apply the law on access to state-held information, which was drafted with RSF’s help. The Afghan authorities must fully implement this law, RSF said in a statement.
“All government institutions have shortcomings when it comes to providing access to information, but the worst ones are: the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Directorate of Security, the office of the president and its procurement unit, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Defence,” the statement said.
“Given the country’s current situation, in particular, the disputed results of the last presidential election in 2019 and the Taliban-imposed war, the Afghan government’s failure to apply the law on access to state-held information is unacceptable,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Afghanistan desk. “It is the state’s job to ensure that journalists have unrestricted access to information.”
The 30 media outlets include four privately-owned national TV channels, Tolo News, TV1, Ariana News and Shamshad; the newspapers 8 Sobh, Etilaatroz and Mandegar; the radio stations Killde and Salam Watandar; and local broadcasters Hewad TV (in the southern province of Kandahar), Radio Azad in the northern province of Balkh and Asr TV in the western province of Herat.
Afghanistan is ranked 121st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
Thirteen were killed during an ambush in northern Jawzjan province overnight, including a pro-government local leader, one of his men and 11 Taliban militants, a provincial government spokesman said on Tuesday.
“The incident occurred along Jawzjan-Sari Pul main road on Monday night after the Taliban militants attacked a unit of pro-government tribal militia group, known as local uprising fighters,” spokesman Abdul Maruf Azar said.
The 11 bodies of the militants would be handed over to local villagers or Afghan Red Crescent personnel later in the day, Azar noted.
The obvious target of the ambush was local leader Tofan, who led local uprising fighters and lost his life in the targeted attack.
Afghan media outlets on Tuesday hold a press conference about a signed letter regarding the “limitations of access to information” in Afghanistan.
30 Afghan media outlets released a signed statement on Tuesday, protesting “severe limitations in access to information,” saying the government has a “double standard” when it comes to “implementing the access to information law, and supporting free media.”
Despite Afghanistan being “one of the deadliest places to be a journalist,” Afghan media is still “freest in region,” but the government endangers the achievement because of its “carelessness,” said the statement.
The Media agencies have listed the institutions such as the Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, National Security of Directorate, National Procurement Bureau, President’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Public Health for not having authorization and limiting the access to information.
They have called for serious action by the Afghan government, the international community and media supportive bodies in terms of access to information and to protect the media freedom.
The Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) has announced that they are getting ready to announce the final election results by Wednesday.
Qasim Elyasi, a spokesperson for the IECC said in a press conference that 50% of decisions have been taken and it will take another two days to complete.
“The decisions have been proven in accordance with the law, principles, procedures and in the context of technical issues and are acceptable by the people and electoral teams,” he said.
Officials of Kabul’s largest industrial park, Green Industries, have informed about the opening of four new factories.
“Four new factories are inaugurated in Green Industries of Kabul. These factories produce various products including batteries, electricity pylons and food products,” said founder of the Green Industries Muhsen Amiri to Radio Liberty.
As per Wasdam report, the park encompasses over seven million square meters of land and can accommodate up to 1500 factories.
According to Amiri, lands have been distributed to 300 factories so far and 25 factories are currently operating in Green Industries.
He further added that 1500 people are currently employed in these factories, and with the established of all the factories about 100,000 jobs will be created.
Women’s football and women’s sport writer for Guardian Newspaper, Suzanne Wrack has been honoured by the International Sport Press Association, winning a prestigious award in Budapest for her investigation on abuse at the Afghanistan Football Federation.
Wrack took the international accolade for Best Colour Piece at the AIPS Sport Media Awards: the category that highlights stories that demonstrate innovation, thinking and research, well written with passion and flair.
In November 2018 the Guardian published an exclusive report by Wrack on alleged violent abuses suffered by members of the Afghanistan national women’s team by Keramuudin Karim, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.
A month later the Guardian ran the accounts of three alleged victims of Karim. This detailed the verbal, physical and sexual abuses suffered by vulnerable women. The initial story prompted the suspension of Karim and four other members of the Afghanistan Football Federation.
Fifa banned Karim from office for 90 days, which was extended by a further 90 days before the world governing body announced last June that he would be banned for life from all football-related activity.
Two days before that the Guardian revealed that senior Fifa officials, the AFC and the AFF – right up to the Fifa general secretary’s office – had been made aware of allegations of corruption and abuses a year before they claimed.
The leadership of the team spoke to Wrack when she approached them about a series of tweets relating to “silencing” contracts players had been asked to sign. Having interviewed the captain the previous year, they entrusted her with details of the abuse and helped facilitate contact with victims still in danger, in hiding and those that had fled the country.
As well as promoting changes in the Afghanistan football federation – with more expected– the story prompted women in other countries to speak out against abuses, including Canada, Costa Rica and Pakistan, and led to the launch of the Fearless Football campaign by the AFDP launched by Prince Ali of Jordan.
Wrack has also been shortlisted for football writer of the year in the forthcoming British Sports Journalism Awards, in which the Guardian has been shortlisted for a total of 12 awards.
The Taliban and leading political groups in Afghanistan have agreed in principle to hold intra-Afghan peace talks at a neutral venue, preferably in Turkey, according to the Mujahedeen leader of the country.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) in an exclusive interview, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, presidential candidate and head of the Hezb-e-Islami party said that they want Turkey to host talks between the Taliban and Afghan political groups.
“We have shared this idea with (former Afghan President Hamid) Karzai. He agreed. I see no political party opposing it,” Hekmatyar stated.
The Mujahedeen leader underlined that the other options such as Germany, who offered to host the talks, are not welcomed because it has been fighting alongside the Americans and the U.K. with the third largest army in Afghanistan.
“However,” he added, “we are waiting for the Taliban’s formal announcement. They have in principle agreed but are waiting to first sign a deal with the U.S.”
Members of Afghanistan’s security forces turned their weapons on each other every four days on average during the closing months fo 2019, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces personnel carried out 33 insider attacks during the fourth quarter of 2019, resulting in 90 casualties, according to SIGAR’s latest report to Congress on the status of reconstruction and security efforts in Afghanistan.
ADNSF personnel carried out a total of 82 insider attacks total in 2019, resulting in 172 deaths and 85 injuries, according to the report.
While the SIGAR report does not include data on ANDSF casualties, the uptick in insider attacks coincides with a record increase in Taliban attacks on Afghan civilians and government security forces.
Both Taliban-led and insider attacks spiked following the breakdown of peace talks with the United States in September and the Afghan presidential election later that month.