Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The United States gave $20.6 million in COVID-19 assistance to Afghanistan, according to a U.S. State Department document.
“The United States will continue to strongly support the health care sector and provide COVID-19 relief,” said Ross Wilson, the country’s Chargé d’Affaires in Kabul, talking about the more than $1.2 billion which had been given by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in global aid for emergency health, humanitarian, economic and development assistance for COVID-19 response.
The aid given to Afghanistan includes more than $7.1 million for health and USAID’s International Disaster Assistance to support the detection and treatment of COVID-19, as well as protection and health support, for internally-displace people.
Nearly $3.1 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance was allocated for Afghan returnees.
In addition, the U.S. also redirected $10 million in existing resources to support the UN Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 in Afghanistan which would conduct disease-surveillance, improve testing laboratories, manage new cases, prevent and control infections in health facilities, engage with local communities, and provide technical assistance to the government.
An additional $500,000 were given to procure COVID-19 prevention and control supplies for correctional facilities.
The Afghan Attorney General’s Office (AGO) made remarkable progress by implementing 80% of the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) recommendations.
While releasing their End-State Assessment of the Vulnerability to Corruption Assessment (VCA) report, MEC said the AGO had demonstrated a high level of commitment to bring about sustainable change in their administration and in Afghan people’s lives.
The broader justice sector was able to benefit by merging parallel departments and duplicated tasks. The AGO also improved its human resources management by creating more transparency in the recruitment, developing terms of references for prosecutors, and conducting regular and systematic performance reviews.
Moreover, all prosecutors declared their assets, as is legally required. The AGO also expanded its presence in 57 districts and raised public awareness through joint programs of the AGO and Ministry of Justice.
However, the report points to the existence of major obstacles and corruption risks which continue to undermine the public’s trusts in the justice system’s criminal procedures.
The MEC outlines vulnerabilities in the lack of transparency in granting bail or detaining the accused, depriving the accused of their right to have legal representation during the arrest
and investigation process, lack of transparency and weak oversight in enforcing the court verdicts, and keeping inmates in prisons beyond the time of their court sentence.
They added that addressing these vulnerabilities will require consistent and systematic efforts from all institutions and stakeholders involved in the justice sector.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, called for an expansion in parliamentary relations with Iran.
Rahmani, in his congratulatory message to his newly-appointed Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, said he was positive that their parliamentary relations would be strengthened and enhanced in the future.
The Document for Comprehensive Cooperation with Iran will also include strengthening bilateral cooperation.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 234 new Coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours in Afghanistan, pushing the total to 29,715 cases so far.
With the addition of 21 new deaths, the country’s toll from the virus increased to 639, while 9,869 patients have recovered so far.
Of the lab samples tested, 124 in Kabul, 34 in Herat, 24 in Bamyan, 10 in Nangarhar, eight in Badghis, seven each in Kunar and Kapisa, six in Badakhshan, four in Daykundi, three each in Panjshir and Logar, two each in Laghman and Parwan were positive.
The MoPH announced yesterday that they had spent $36.7 million so far in their COVID-19 response.
Six civilians were killed when their rikshaw struck a roadside bomb in Jawzjan’s Mardian district on Tuesday evening.
According to Tariq Arian, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, another civilian was also wounded in the explosion.
Arian blamed the Taliban insurgents for the anti-vehicle mine attack. “The Taliban are increasing civilian casualties by increasing violence,” he said.
However, no one has claimed responsibility yet.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that $36.7 million had been spent so far on their fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan.
Hafizullah Sadat, head of the MoPH finance department, said that the total budget allocated for the COVID-19 response amounted to $155.7 million of which $15 million had been provided by the Afghan government, $100.4 million by the World Bank and another $40 million by the Asian Development Bank.
Of the Afghan government’s contribution, about $12.7 million has been spent so far and another $30.8 million will be spent through the donors to purchase medical equipment and for the construction and upkeep of hospitals.
The Treasury Department’s has said this value does not include the medical aid and equipment which has been donated to Afghanistan.
However, the lack of transparency in spending of the Coronavirus funds and corruption saw the arrest of a MoPH employee for taking a bribe of $80,000.
Pictures from the aftermath of the Tuesday evening clash in Bala Murghab district of Badghis, showed that the bodies of Afghan security force members had been set on fire by the Taliban.
A spokesperson for the Badghis police command said three members of the special police had been killed and another had been wounded in the attack. He said the casualties included members of the army but did not mention any numbers.
A different account by the Badghis Provincial Council claims that seven army soldiers and three police special forces were killed while five others were wounded.
The attack on the security camp took place when the forces were going outside their base to review the situation. The clashes continued for over two hours, before the Taliban fled the scene.
On May 17, Taliban had similarly shot dead five people and then torched their bodies in Ghazni province.
The U.S. welcomed the decision of Afghanistan and Pakistan to reopen the Ghulam Khan border crossing and tweeted a congratulatory message in the early hours of Wednesday.
The Ghulam Khan crossing, along with the Torkham and Chaman gates was opened for Afghan transit trade on June 22, a few months after its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Encouraged that Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to open a third border crossing at Ghulam Khan to facilitate trade between the two countries and help businesses/exporters get back on their feet,” wrote the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
“Increased, uninterrupted Af-Pak trade and connectivity bring benefits to both economies,” they further added.
Last week, Afghanistan’s Special Representative to Pakistan Atif Mashal had informed that negotiations with the authorities had gone well and the border gates would be opening again to clear the trade backlog.
Afghan imports are allowed at all three crossing points, subject to COVID-19 standard operating procedures imposed by Pakistan.
Uzbekistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev held talks via a videoconference with his British counterpart Gareth Bayley.
During the conversation, they discussed the efforts of Uzbekistan and the U.K. to peacefully resolve the Afghan crisis, as well as launch of the direct intra-Afghan were discussed, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Bayley appreciated the initiative being taken by Uzbeki leaders to run Central Asia into a secure, stable and prosperous region. He said this would held strengthen regional cooperation, including in resolving the Afghan crisis.
As the exchange of views progress, they also discussed the priority areas of the Uzbek-British cooperation in rebuilding the national economy of Afghanistan, and the implementation of various infrastructure projects in the country.
The parties expressed mutual interest in continuing bilateral consultations on Afghan issues.
Taliban’s Red Unit Commander for Farah province was killed along with 10 other militants during clashes with Afghan security forces in Ghor’s Firozkoh.
A spokesperson for the Ghor police said the Taliban commander was named Rashid and he had instigated the attack with his men.
Two Afghan security personnel were wounded along with several other Taliban fighters.
The first flight from Kabul to Istanbul, Turkish Airlines TK 707, is scheduled to depart from Afghanistan at 9:10 am on Wednesday, making it the first international service to reconnect to the country since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Officials have said due to restrictions and health advisories, Turkish Airlines will limit their schedule to four flights a week.
Their has also been a reduction in ticket pricing to entice more people to travel.