Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities concerned to prepare a relief package for the Afghan refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) facing hardship due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The directives came during a meeting of the federal cabinet following a request by Pakistani Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Shehryar Afridi.
The Pakistani prime minister gave the directives regarding allocation of funds for the IDPs and refugees from the Rs200 billion earmarked for poor farmers.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that at least six new positive cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Kabul and Daikundi provinces.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar said five new cases have been tested positive in Kabul and one other in Daikundi.
According to Mayar, one of the cases has the experience of travelling to Iran.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Afghanistan reaches to 245.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says a total of 236 million AFN have been sent to the provinces so far to meet urgent needs.
The MoPH Finance Chief, Hafizulah Sa’adat in a press conference said around $8 milion is being processed and soon will be available to the Ministry.
“So far we have not faced any issues regarding the budget,” he said.
Sa’adat declared that 236 million AFN were earmarked for the provinces to meet their urgent and basic needs, including the provision of masks, gloves, liquid and disinfectants.
“Over 28 million afghanis have been send to Herat province to combat the coronavirus and we hope that the money is used properly,” he asserted.
The MoPH official noted that Herat and Balkh provinces have so far spent a small amount of their allocated budget.
In the meantime, Vahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said that in the past 24 hours, 43 people had contracted the coronavirus, 41 in Herat and two in Kabul.
Mayar added that with a total of 43 cases, the total number of positive cases of Coronavirus across the country has reached 239, the most of which is in Herat province.
Afghanistan has received its first batch of Chinese COVID-19 prevention materials as part of Beijing’s commitment to provide assistance to help Kabul fight the coronavirus.
The shipment on board arrived Thursday in Kabul that Chinese Ambassador has announced.
“China’s first batch of COVID-19 prevention materials has arrived in Kabul,” Wang Yu, Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, tweeted on Thursday.
As fears are growing about the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Afghanistan, the number of positive cases are increasing at a time of political disarray and amid the politics of war and peace.
News of the virus, officially dubbed COVID-19, even overshadowed the developments surrounding the hoped beginning of the end of 40 years of war in the country.
The virus, which emerged in China, has spread to more and more countries.
The cases reported in Afghanistan have been linked to the outbreak in Iran.
The humanitarian aid has been sent to Afghanistan on behalf of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to help prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.
The aid consists of basic necessities to fight the coronavirus. The humanitarian aid, including medical masks, protective overalls, thermal imagers for detecting the disease, pyrometers, flour, oil, rice, laundry soap, clothes for children, was sent along the route Angren – Tashkent – Termez – Mazar-e-Sharif.
“Today there is no country in the world that would be indifferent to the fate of other countries,” said a press officer of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Uzbekistan Samandar Hikmatullayev. – Coronavirus infection has put the entire world’s population at risk. It can be defeated only by the joint efforts of all countries. The assistance provided by Uzbekistan to the Afghan people is a clear example of this cohesion.
The streets of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, were packed on Friday; a hectic bustling in the markets and shops, pious whispers ringing from prayer gatherings at the mosques, the skies full of kites that children were flying.
But on Saturday the city of around six million people went into lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus in one of the poorest and most war-torn countries in the world.
Many residents defied the order. Beneath billboards warning of the dangers of the virus, casual labourers, shoeshiners and vendors kept on working until an increased police crackdown saw parts of the city become quieter.
The announcement to shut down Kabul came as public health minister Ferozuddin Feroz decried people’s carelessness. “If we don’t take the coronavirus seriously, it will take us seriously,” Feroz said, adding that this was why the country needed to “apply these health guidelines”.
By Tuesday the city was almost silent but the skies were still filled with colour as children took to the roofs to fly their kites. At least 174 people had tested positive for the virus and four were known to have died, but with limited testing – so far available only in Kabul and the north-western city of Herat – the numbers are unreliable.
The Taliban said Wednesday the group was ready to declare a cease-fire in areas of Afghanistan under its control if they are hit by a coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement follows a U.N. Security Council statement Tuesday urging Afghanistan’s warring parties to heed the U.N. secretary-general’s call for an immediate cease-fire to respond to the pandemic and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country.
“If, God forbid, the outbreak happens in an area where we control the situation then we will stop fighting in that area,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muajhed told The Associated Press.
The Taliban have also said they would guarantee the security of health and aid workers traveling to their areas offering assistance to prevent the spread of the new virus.
It wasn’t clear how many cases would need to be confirmed in any given area for the insurgent group to announce a cease-fire and there was no immediate response from the government.