Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says that most of the people in Afghanistan who have tested positive for coronavirus are young.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar in a press conference said that the ministry is trying to increase the number of centres for treatment.
“So far we had 281 samples tested, out of which 22 were positive and the rest were negative,” Mayar said.
“The Ministry of Health has not hidden the facts and we have so far shared all the numbers correctly,” he added.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Afghanistan today reached to 22.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a video message to Herat residents said that the government has allocated 400 million AFN to fight the coronavirus in the province.
Ghani told the people of Herat that he has instructed the authorities to take measures to dimension the problems, such as managing returnees, mobilizing aids, creating emergency facilities and preventing recession, taking immediate and significant actions.
“I would like to see that a high council formed with presence of Herat representatives at the Lower and Upper Houses, the private sector, civil society to oversee the management and consumption of this financial allocation,” he said.
President also added that he als called on the private sector and the Herati people to work on a clear plan to keep Herat’s economy active and prosper, and to work with the government on its implementation.
Following the closure of the Torkham and Chaman official border-crossing points with Afghanistan, the voluntary repatriation of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been suspended. This is due to precautionary measures taken by the Government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation Centres at Azakhel, Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baleli, Quetta in Balochistan are therefore closed until further notice. The Encashment Centres in Afghanistan have also been closed.
The voluntary repatriation programme had resumed on 2 March 2020 after a three-month winter break. Nine families – a total of 28 individuals – have so far returned to Afghanistan this month.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children (SRSG) and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, in a statement on Monday called for the inclusion of “child protection” and the “specific needs and rights of children in the intra-Afghan negotiations throughout the peace process.
Afghanistan remains the deadliest conflict for children, the statement read, and the SRSG “welcomes the recent engagement and efforts of parties in the country toward achieving sustainable peace and emphasizes the need to end the conflict.”
“The inclusion of measures to protect children at the earliest stages possible of the intra-Afghan negotiations has a strategic value for sustainable peace and stability, and the potential to improve the lives of millions of children in Afghanistan,” said Virginia Gamba.
The proclaimed president Abdullah Abdullah has called the coronavirus a global threat and said that people should prevent the virus by taking personal and social disciplinary measures.
Abdullah in a press conference at the Sapidar Palace said that more than 200 thousand people have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 6000 have died.
He noted that the coronavirus
has no vaccine, and the best way to prevent it is to take preventive and disciplinary measures.
Abdullah praised the Ministry of Public Health’s efforts for its measures and cooperation with the World Health Organization.
“We do not expect a single ministry to prevent the development of Coronavirus. In this regard, we need the national solidarity and paying serous attention to the messages of the health institutions,” he added.
President Ashraf Ghani has issued an order to distribute 24,000 tons of wheat from the govt’s reserves to vulnerable people.
President Ghani in a recorded video message said, “The country is not facing a shortage of food and other commodities.”
According to the president, the government decided that about 1,000 wagons of oil, which are available in the northern ports, will be allowed to enter the market as soon as possible without fines.
This comes as the food prices have recently increased after the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The government of India on Tuesday announced that it has banned the entry of passengers from Afghanistan to India with immediate effect.
In continuation of the travel advisory issued on March 11 and March 16, the following additional advisory has been issued.
“Travel of passengers from Afghanistan to India is prohibited with immediate effect. No flight shall take off from these countries to India after 1500 hours Indian Standard Time (IST). The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure,” the statement said.
“This instruction is a temporary measure and shall be in force till 31st March and will be reviewed subsequently,” it said.
The coronavirus cases in India has risen to 126 on Tuesday, according to Health Ministry website.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) says Kabul Police arrested an individual who had kidnapped and murdered a 7-year-old child in Kabul city.
The Interior Ministry in a statement said the Kabul Police arrested the detainee during a raid which they conducted in the vicinity of 8th district.
According to the statement, the perpetrator murdered the child after abducting the victim and taking him to Gul Bata area of Bagrami district.
MoI further added that the Kabul Police has referred the case to relevant authorities for further process.
One police officer has died, and two other people have suffered injuries after a bomb blast in the northern Afghan city of Mazari Sharif, a police spokesman said.
According to Adil Shah Adil, a spokesman for law enforcement officials in Balkh province, the bomb was placed on a bicycle and detonated in the city’s eighth district.
The police spokesman did not confirm if any individual or group had claimed responsibility for the blast.
On 2 March, a motorcycle bomb exploded in the eastern province of Khost, killing three people and injuring seven others.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus, or Covid-19, in Afghanistan is now 22.
The Public Health department in Herat province has reported a new confirmed case of coronavirus in the province.
The health department on Tuesday said that at least eight suspected cases were hospitalized in the past 24 hours and the total number of the suspected cases reaches to 164.
This comes as most infections being Herat indicates that that province is very vulnerable as it is near Iran.
Minister Feroz said 96 new health workers have been deployed in Herat to combat the spread of the virus.
A hospital was opened recently in Herat and another 300-bed facility will be established and expanded, he said.
As Afghanistan continues to reel from the effects of the deadly coronavirus, the rising cost of food is soaring the people’s concerns.
Kabul Food Union has said that food prices have soared as there isn’t enough foodstuffs in Afghanistan.
Increase of food prices, particularly for wheat flour, and a shortfall in domestic agricultural production have pushed millions of vulnerable Afghans into the “high risk” category of food insecurity.
This comes as the neighbouring Pakistan also closed its borders with Afghanistan Amid the coronavirus pandemic which is one of the. major reasons for the increase of food prices in the country.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has welcomed Taliban’s statement that denounced the IS-K terrorist group.
“I welcome the Taliban’s statement denouncing Daesh and committing to stop any attempts by Daesh to “recruit, fundraise, or train” inside Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said in a tweet.
He cited that these mirror Taliban’s public commitments to US agreement against Al Qaeda and all other groups that threaten the US or its allies.
He stressed that Taliban’s statement on IS-K and their recent operations against terrorists in Kunar are positive steps.
The US representative also called on Taliban to stand by their commitments.
“We expect Taliban to deliver on their commitments. The fulfillment of our commitments within the agreement will depend on the Taliban delivering on their commitments,” he added.
While a number of Iran’s neighbors have decided to close the common border over concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus, all border crossings between Iran and Afghanistan are open and the Iranian export of commodities is in progress, an official said.
The spokesperson for Iran’s Customs said all border crossings between Iran and Afghanistan are open and shipments of Iranian products are being exported to the eastern neighbor through Dogharoon and Mahirood border crossings.
The spokesperson also noted that all travelers at the Dogharoon border crossing are screened for coronavirus, and that a slower pace of customs affairs is due to stricter supervision to prevent the export of medical supplies.
This comes as other regional countries and Afghanistan neighboring countries have closed borders due to the coronavirus concerns.