Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Balkh residents marched in protest of the high price of electricity in the province, demanding a reduction in electricity bills on Tuesday.
The protesters warned that if their demands were not met, they would close the gates of the local De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) branch for a week.
They said the electricity prices were “severe and debilitating” and should be lowered as it is higher than other provinces.
They said Breshna charges 6.5 AFN for per kilowatt of electricity in Balkh, while provinces such as Kabul only pay 2.5 AFN per kilowatt.
Balkh residents have been protesting over social media but took to the streets today.
Breshna has said it is working on a plan to standardize electricity prices across all provinces and will send the bill to the parliament.
Afghanistan’s laboratories tested 232 samples over the past 24 hours and found 43 to be positive for Coronavirus, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said.
The MoPH reported new cases in Herat (29), Balkh (5), Kabul (4), Badakhshan (3), Uruzgan (1) and Jawzjan (1).
The country also recorded one death and 25 recoveries over the past day.
Afghanistan has confirmed 38,815 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, along with 32,098 recoveries and 1,426 deaths.
In response to a series of flash floods that swept across large parts of Afghanistan in late August, the European Union (EU) is providing €150,000 (around 13.7 million AFN) in humanitarian aid funding, the EU press office said on Tuesday.
The EU Humanitarian Aid is to assist the most vulnerable communities that were affected by the floods that swept across 14 provinces and killed over 160 people and displaced thousands.
The aid will directly benefit 35,000 people in some of the hardest hit areas in Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Paktika, Panjshir and Parwan provinces.
The EU-funding supports the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in delivering assistance through the distribution of emergency food supplies to those hit by the floods. The programme also ensures a gender-sensitive approach, allowing both women and men equal and safe access to the support.
As the COVID-19 outbreak remains a significant threat, personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and hand sanitisers are also being provided as part of the mitigation measures.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Afghanistan won a seat as a member of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women (UNSCW) for the 2021-2025 term, announced the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN in New York.
Adela Raz, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said this represents a “victory” for a process that started 19 years ago, when Afghanistan, “committed to the empowerment of our women.”
“This is of a critical importance during our Peace Talks to demonstrate the New Afghanistan,” Raz tweeted.
The UNCSW is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council, and is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
India, Afghanistan and China were among the main contenders for two seats in the Asia-Pacific States category.
Of the 54 ballots, Afghanistan won 39 and India won 38, while China got 27. The majority marks was 28 votes.
Afghanistan and India will join Argentina, Austria, Dominican Republic, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Turkey and Zambia for the 2021-2025 period.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad upon his return from Qatar will testify before a U.S. House committee panel hearing on the American strategy regarding troop withdrawal and peace in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad will come before the House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee, after the panel threatened to issue subpoenas against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper for failing to testify in the hearings.
“I am grateful to U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad for agreeing to testify before the Subcommittee on National Security about the United States’ negotiations with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan,” subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch said.
The committee will examine the Trump administration’s strategy, including potential impacts for Afghan women and U.S. security interests in the region.
“After nearly two-decades of conflict, the American people deserve to hear directly from the Administration about how it plans to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan,” Lynch added.
On Aug. 31, the committee had demanded testimony about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan from the Pentagon and the State Department, saying they had been refused for over a year.
Lynch spoke with Khalilzad on Thursday, at which point he committed to testifying before the subcommittee and also offered to provide members with a closed-door, classified briefing.
It is unclear if the panel is still seeking testimony from the Pentagon or if Khalilzad’s commitment is enough.
President Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting with Ghazni’s members of the House of Representatives and the Provincial Council on Monday, promised that the government would prepare for parliamentary elections in the province soon.
The Presidential Palace said that Ghani called on Ghazni’s representatives to “achieve a just and principled result” in order to “further ensure the unity of the people.”
He called Ghazni “everyone’s home” and promised that the demands and suggestions of the people of the province would be met.
He also referred to the cooperation and coordination between the people and elders of the province in various sectors, stating that in order to improve things, especially security, it is necessary for the people to be cohesive “district by district.”
Meanwhile, Ghazni members in the House of Representatives and the Provincial Council asked Ghani to provide security and implement development projects as soon as possible.
Parliamentary elections were held in 32 provinces in October 2018, however they have not taken place in Ghazni yet.
Ghazni residents had opposed the division of the province into three constituencies and as a result, the elections had to be postponed.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said that they have submitted a plan for parliamentary elections in Ghazni to the House of Representatives.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar spoke with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide on Monday and thanked her for supporting the peace talks in Doha, Qatar.
Atmar thanked her for her speech at the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan talks on Saturday, and Norway’s offer to host a round of the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Referring to Norway’s long-term cooperation and active presence in Afghanistan and its experience in resolving global tensions, Atmar said their call for a reduction of violence and the establishment of an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan was important for the success of the peace process.
The Norwegian foreign minister expressed her satisfaction with the start of the peace talks, and assured her country’s continued support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks.
Søreide condemned the recent terrorist attack on First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, and expressed her condolences to the families of the victims.
The foreign ministers also discussed the continuation of the talks and the next rounds, the role of regional and global consensus in the success of the peace process, regional and international support for the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan and its impact on the success of peace talks.