Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Following the decision of the Emergency Committee to extend school closures for the next three months, the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) announced that remote education programmes will continue.
The MoE in its statement said that the Committee’s decision to prevent the spread of the virus within schools, private institutes and public teacher training centres has been noted.
The decision to start face-to-face training in schools would depend on the number of Coronavirus cases and whether they were declining within the community, they said.
Remote learning will continue for the time being. Start Alternative options for educational services
The MoE said that alternatives to formal education services, limited gatherings with health and preventive measures and online courses, would be formally launched soon.
They also asked students to pursue long-term curricula via television and radio courses during the holiday season.
Private schools across the country, have been granted permission to start online courses after keeping in regard the quality of education being delivered and the student’s family satisfaction. The MoE’s leadership meeting with private school union officials will decide how those students facing financial difficulties would be provided with discounts and loans by their schools.
Extension of the lockdown
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, the Coronavirus Emergency Committee, chaired by Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, decided that educational institutions will be inactive for the next three months to check the spread of the virus.
The country has reported 20,342 positive cases of Coronavirus to date.
With the rise of Coronavirus cases in the country, the Afghan Senate today, approved a loan of 17 billion AFN to combat the virus.
The Senate requested permission for the disbursal of the amount which the Afghan government had received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April this year.
There are concerns about the spending of the IMF bailout after a publication listed the widespread corruption within the Balkh Public Health Department.
Senators said that the money and foreign aid might be wasted and called on the government to prevent corruption, at least in their fight against Coronavirus.
They called on the government to audit the use of the Coronavirus funds and set an oversight and monitoring committee within the National Assembly to make this more effective.
Meanwhile, the government has also issued new guidelines and extended the curfew for the next three months to prevent the spread of the virus.
Cricketers Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and skipper Asghar Afghan are among the national players set to resume their training at a month-long camp in Kabul, the Afghanistan Cricket Board announced.
The camp, to be held in Kabul Cricket Stadium, will follow the relevant health guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and will be closely coordinated by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the WHO and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
A COVID-19 awareness meeting was held for the players and trainers by the board to educate them.
The death of Afghans who were trying to cross into Iran was a “human tragedy” caused by “cross-border infringements” said Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Mohsen Baharvand on Sunday.
Baharvand told the Islamic Republic News Agency that investigations absolved the Iranian border guards of their culpability.
We attach importance to Afghan side’s documents, he added.
In the beginning of May, reports emerged that Iranian border guards had tortured and thrown around 57 Afghans into the Harirud river in western Herat province.
Tehran had said they would help in the joint investigations with reports from the border officials.
Baharvand said as Afghanistan’s neighbours, they followed brotherly relations with Kabul and any insecurity in Afghanistan will affect them across the border.
However, they share a 1,000 kilometre common border where the Afghan government has removed checkpoints and there is no control.
He emphasised that Harirud was a common route for human traffickers to transfer people.
He reiterated that Afghan nationals would be respected in Iran if they entered following the correct procedures.
World Bank President David Malpass said the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting billions of people and warned that the economic fallout from the virus could last for a decade.
While talking to BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, Malpass said, “It [Coronavirus] has been a devastating blow for the economy. The combination of the pandemic itself, and the shutdowns, has meant billions of people whose livelihoods have been disrupted. That’s concerning.”
“Both the direct consequences, meaning lost income, but also then the health consequences, the social consequences, are really harsh,” he said, especially for those who could least afford it, pointing to the rising U.S. stock market while there is news of countries going into recession.
In May, he had warned that 60 million people could be pushed to “extreme poverty,” that is living on less than $1.90 per person per day.
Malpass admits that national calls for ‘going local’ and putting barriers to trade, may cause more harm.
“When trade is reduced, that creates its own set of tensions and inequality… I’m sure [the global economy] will be interconnected in the future, maybe less than it was pre-COVID.”
While countries may recover in the future, he admits the challenges that lie on the route, will cause considerable pain.
Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said regional development was linked to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan will continue to play a vital role in ensuring peace and stability in the region,” Qureshi said.
He met the newly appointed Special Envoy of Pakistan to Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq on Saturday and said it was a “collective responsibility” to ensure the Afghan peace process and said Pakistan’s sincere reconciliatory role had been lauded globally.
Sadiq’s appointment is meant to spearhead the start of the intra-Afghan peace dialogue and also to strengthen bilateral ties.
An increase in the number of cases of Coronavirus has been seen, with 791 new cases over the past 24 hours, announced by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
The last 24 hours also saw a record increase in the number of deaths with 30 people succumbing to the virus, including 23 in Kabul, two in Herat, two in Khost , and one each in the provinces of Balkh, Faryab and Helmand.
The total death toll of the country stands at 357, while the addition of 45 new recovered cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total recovered patients to 1,875.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (313), Khost (128), Herat (94), Kandahar (79), Nimroz (49), Nangarhar (18), Farah (17), Samangan (14), Zabul (12), Parwan (11), Jawzjan (9), eight each in Nuristan and Panjshir, seven each in Kunar and Balkh, six each in Badakhshan and Helmand, four in Ghor and one in Logar. .
The MoPH announced that they tested 1,427 suspected samples from 19 provinces during the day.
More than 37 Afghan, including at least 24 security officials, have been killed and dozens have been wounded as the government starts trying to finalise the venue and timeline of the intra-Afghan peace dialogue.
The conflict-riddled country is trying to accelerate the start of the talks amidst an unofficial ceasefire since the end of the three-day truce on Eid Al-Fitr.
Massive offensives were seen at checkpoints in the northern Badakhshan province and the southern Zabul province.
In Badakhshan, a local commander of the Afghan police was killed along with 10 other personnel when their car went over a roadside mine.
Following similar patterns, 10 more police officers were killed in Zabul after getting ambushed by militants.
In Guldara district of Kabul, gunmen killed three police officers at a security checkpoint in the Dasht-e Naseri area.
The spike in militant activities has not gone unnoticed as it comes during a time when the U.S. and the Afghan government are trying to bolster the talks.
The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for any of these attacks, yet the Ministry of Interior and local officials have attributed some of them to the group, including the Kabul attack.
The U.S. military also carried out two airstrikes against Taliban fighters in Kandahar and Farah last week.
A spokesman for the Maidan Wardak governor’s office said the ‘Taliban’ had killed four members of a family, including a tribal elder, on Friday.
The incident happened in Chak district where gunmen shot the elder, his wife, son and grandson.
The Taliban denied involvement and said the “people were killed close to a government checkpoint.”
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) delivered the first batch of emergency medical aid to combat the Coronavirus in Afghanistan.
OIC’s ambassador arrived at Kabul International Airport with the 57 aid parcels containing disposable medical masks, N95 masks and protective clothing for medical staff in quarantine facilities.
The OIC Council of Ministers Executive Committee recently adopted resolutions to mobilise Emergency Assistance to support member states’ campaigns to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), a subsidiary OIC aimed at supporting the least developed members in their response to COVID-19, has also delivered a first tranche of emergency financial assistance to Afghanistan.