Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Turkmenistan is helping Afghanistan with construction of a COVID-19 diagnostic center, Trend reports with reference to Arzuw NEWS.
The mentioned diagnostic center is being built in Afghanistan’s Andkhoy district of Faryab province, where the citizens of different districts will be treated.
The head of the health organization of Andkhoy district thanked Turkmenistan for its assistance and help. According to him, earlier, residents of the Faryab province undertook coronavirus testing in Mazar-e-Sharif city of Balkh province.
One of Andkhoy’s residents also expressed gratitude to Turkmenistan for the supply of medical devices and equipment for COVID-19 diagnostics.
A 24-year-old student from Afghanistan allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree early on Wednesday, Indian media reported.
Shekib Fakir ended his life outside Gujarat University hostel in Ahmedabad city, the Press Trust of India reported citing police.
“He was pursuing a course in BBA (bachelor of business administration) from an affiliated college of Gujarat University and waiting to appear for an exam,” assistant sub- inspector Aniruddhsinh Mori of of Gujarat University police station said.
“Due to some unknown reason, he allegedly hanged himself from a tree outside his hostel block when others were asleep,” he said.
While investigators have yet to ascertain the motive behind the act, Fakir’s friends told media that he was under pressure to clear an exam paper to obtain his degree.
Pakistan agreed to resume imports from Afghanistan via the Torkham and Spin-Boldak border crossings from next week, said Atif Mashal, the Afghan envoy to the country.
In a series of tweets, Mashal said Pakistan would also be opening the Ghulam Khan crossing on June 22 for both imports and exports.
The actual date might be affected by the result of the Steering Committee meetings that will be held soon.
“I thank the Government of Pakistan for this initiative and hope to make tangible progress in bilateral trade in accordance with the principles of the World Trade Organization,” Mashal added.
In an earlier tweet, Mashal had also mentioned the reopening of the Chaman border crossing for Afghan traders.
Afghan traders had filed multiple complaints earlier about Pakistan’s one-way closure of the borders.
Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser emphasized the need for intensifying their contact with the Afghan legislature on Tuesday.
The stable relationship between the two countries in imperative for their progress and development, Qaiser told Afghanistan’s Ambassador Shukr Allah Atif.
A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan has always been the prime objective of Pakistan’s foreign policy, he added.
The speaker also said enhanced bilateral trade and economic cooperation was the need of the hour as Afghanistan is the gateway to central Asia.
Qaiser recommended the formation of parliamentary friendship groups and contacts between the trade and commerce committees of both sides to reduce barriers in that regard.
On his part, Ambassador Atif thanked the Pakistan government for their continues support to the Afghan peace process.
He agreed to enhancing ties between the legislatures and assured the speaker that he would convey these sentiments to the Wolesi Jirga.
Iranian government officials confirmed the death of four Afghan citizens who drowned in the Zayanderud Dam in the country’s Isfahan province on Tuesday afternoon.
Mansour Shisheforosh, head of Isfahan’s Crisis Management Department said the victims include three women and a man.
He explains that one them fell into the water first and then the others drowned while trying to help.
The Office of the National Security Council (NSC) responded to the UN report on child casualties in Afghanistan, and said they were committed to improving the lives of children in the country.
The NSC said they had received the report which noted a decline in casualties among children from 2018 due to steps taken by the government like implementing the 2011 action plan and 2014 road map to end and prevent child recruitment, along with the enactment of the Child Rights Protection Law in 2019.
The UN report on Children in Armed Conflict made Afghanistan the world’s deadliest country for children for the fifth consecutive year with 3,410 children killed, wounded, abducted and abused.
The NSC pointed that the report accused the Taliban of planting landmines, roadside bombs and suicide bombing attacks which saw an increased number of children casualties, attributing 1,238 child deaths and injuries to the group.
“Our longstanding position is that in order to protect civilians and advance the cause of peace, the Taliban as the driver of conflict must stop their unjustifiable campaign of terror tantamount to war crimes against the Afghan and Muslim nation,” the statement added.
The NSC said the Afghan government was still committed to implementing and improving the current mechanism and the nation hoped that the Taliban militants would end the ongoing conflict.
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh presided over a high-level meeting on the legal status of Afghan refugees in Iran.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Minister of Immigration Sayed Hussein Alemi Balkhi, the head of the National Statistics Office and an envoy from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) in Afghanistan.
The officials met at the Presidential Palace and discussed ways to legalise the presence of Afghan immigrants in Iran and ways to regulate their presence in the country.
They also decided that during Atmar’s visit to Tehran next week, he would discuss the electronic ID cards and passports to be distributed to the Afghans living there.
The Ministry of Public Health reported 564 new Coronavirus cases in the country over the past 24 hours. This has pushed Afghanistan’s total to 26,874 confirmed cases.
Of the 1,126 samples tested during the day, new cases were reported in Kabul (192), Bamyan (65), Takhar (64), Balkh (51), Paktia (40), Kandahar (27), Kunduz (27), Wardak (24), Baghlan (21), Daykundi (14), Kapisa (12), Nuristan (8), Badakhshan (6), Nangarhar (6), Kunar (5) and Zabul (2).
Thirteen people died in the past day while 650 recovered, bringing those totals to 504 deaths and 6,158 recovered cases.
Activists across the country have said the official figures are not painting the correct pictures as the sales of coffins have gone up in provinces along with reports of more graveyards being busier than usual.
People on social media have also raised issues about hospitals running out of oxygen balloons.
The country currently has 20,212 active cases and has tested 60,298 samples.
At least 13 Taliban militants were killed, and 12 others wounded in three different clashes with the Afghan security forces in Kandahar, the local police confirmed.
Jamal Nasir Barikzai, a spokesman for Kandahar police said the militants stormed a security outpost in Zherai district around midnight Tuesday, in which eight members of the group were killed and three injured. A policeman was also killed and another officer was wounded in the shooting.
Another attack at a security outpost in the Bedak area of Takhta pul on Tuesday night, also claimed the lives of five Taliban fighters.
The Ministry of Defense said six Afghan soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in a Taliban attacks on an army post in Jawzjan province on Tuesday night.
The incident took place in the Bala Hissar area of Aqcha district, the ministry’s statement said.
The militants also suffered heavy casualties, but the figures were not provided by the ministry.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern over the recent rise in violence in Afghanistan combined with targeted attacks against healthcare facilities that would prevent access for millions of Afghans who need them especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The recent trajectory in Afghanistan is of great concern. After the hope brought by a relative reduction in hostilities in February and March, we again see more violence. Civilian casualties are on the rise while the country is battling against COVID-19,” said Juan Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s existing healthcare systems are already overstretched due to the limited access in conflict-riddled areas and the influx of hundreds on new Coronavirus cases everyday. In addition, health workers are also getting infected.
“COVID-19 has challenged the world’s most advanced nations. A country where gunmen attack a hospital stands no chance at providing quality care,” Schaerer said referring to the attacks at the Medecins Sans Frontieres-operated maternity wards at Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi hospital.
ICRC has been supporting Afghanistan’s largest hospital, Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar, for the last two decades. The hospital serves 6 million people in the region, many of whom coming from areas where the Taliban is actively fighting government forces.
They have been operating at a reduced capacity in the obstetrics and surgery department for people wounded in war, due to the COVID-19 cases.
Mirwais has been regularly facing a shortage of masks and hand gel as their supply was disrupted by the lockdowns and the virus. Also, blood donations have decreased but the need for blood has not.
“There are some challenges like the supply pipeline that the ICRC can help with,” said Erin O’Connor, the ICRC’s Mirwais hospital project manager. “But getting donors to come to give blood amid COVID-19 is more challenging.”
ICRC also works with health facilities in prisons and detention facilities.
“We battle a worldwide enemy and need a country-wide agreement on how to address COVID-19,” Schaerer said while calling to protect medical missions and strengthen health care systems from both parties of the conflict.
“As a start, full respect of international humanitarian law by all parties, without exception, is needed to protect civilians in Afghanistan.”
Australian charity Skateistan is building a skatepark and school in the city of Bamyan. The organisation already works with hundreds of underprivileged children in the city, reports the Financial Times.
Skateistan was founded by skateboarder Oliver Percovich in 2007 “to give Afghan youth a positive outlet and community.” They reach out to 2,500 children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.
In Afghanistan the non-profit works with children who wouldn’t have access to education and are taught to read and write, along with skating at the school’s indoor skatepark.
They are joined by The Skateroom, a Brussels-based brand that is producing limited-edition custom-designed skateboards. Twenty five percent of the proceeds from their sales are going towards social projects.
“We choose artists who want to support our mission, who want to get involved with Skateistan and might even consider going to Afghanistan with us,” says The Skateroom’s founder Charles-Antoine Bodson.
A group of Azerbaijani peacekeepers joined NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan on a rotating basis.
The Defence Ministry said the Azerbaijani Army has been in Afghanistan since November 2002.
Women leaders spoke about the importance of being represented in the COVID-19 response and the cross-border diplomacy between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Talking at a cross-border women’s dialogue on “Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Women in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, a Pakistani Member of Parliament, said that appointing women as co-ambassadors or deputy ambassadors would give them a voice in all spheres of policymaking. She also recommended forming a Pak-Afghan working group on COVID-19 to present a gendered response to the crisis.
Senior Afghan politician and rights activist Shinkai Karokhail, stated that the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to empower women as leaders and decision makers to build long term resilience and cohesion of communities.
Karokhail pointed that the pandemic has unequally affected women and girls more as they lost their access to education and economic opportunities. She said due to the economic effects of the lockdowns, families will prioritize boy’s education.
Muzammil Shinwari, head of the Organisation for Economic Studies and Peace (OESP) also spoke about getting technical assistance from their Pakistani counterparts regarding remote education since they had been successful in starting a virtual university for distant education and tele-schooling during the pandemic.
The dialogue, which was organised by Pakistan’s Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), also saw a comprehensive discussion on the impact of the crisis on women.
Participants pointed that as the women were at home during the lockdowns, they had lost incomes and were at an increased risk of physical and psychological abuse.
Some of the recommendations were to devise a mechanism for Afghan women entrepreneurs to learn e-commerce and e-medical psychotherapy from their Pakistani counterparts.
They also formed a Pak-Afghan Bilateral Women Commission in which leaders from all sectors would address challenges through collaborative measures.
Furthermore, participants urged there should be women representation from the Taliban side as well in the intra-Afghan talks to include their voices.