Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghan officials in Kabul say around 140 prisoners have been released from Pul-e Charkhi jail based on a presidential decree to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul governor press office in a press release said that the prisoners who were released had sentence charges less than five years.
It is noteworthy that at least 11 women were also released during the past three days based on the Presidential decree.
Political uncertainty and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are expected to weigh on Afghanistan’s economy in 2020, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report. The government needs to raise domestic revenue to reduce grant dependence and achieve self-reliance.
In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020, ADB forecasts Afghanistan’s economy to grow at 3.0% in 2020, same as last year but picking up to 4.0% in 2021 depending on the situation in the country including improved prospects for long-term political stability and security. These developments promise to raise consumer confidence and improve business by attracting higher levels of private investment. As the current forecasts are based on developments until 20 March 2020, ADB will update these figures later this year to reflect the impact of most recent developments, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Accelerating domestic revenue mobilization can help Afghanistan become more self-sufficient in financing public expenditure and reducing dependence on foreign assistance,” said ADB Country Director for Afghanistan Narendra Singru. “We are hopeful, with the successful political settlement and sustainable peace, a new window of opportunity will open for Afghanistan and pave the way for prosperity and socioeconomic development.”
According to the report, inflation accelerated from 0.6% in 2018 to average 2.3% in 2019 as the afghani (local currency) depreciated and food prices reversed their steep fall in 2018 to rise by 3.8% last year. Industry decelerated in 2019 from strong 7.6% growth the previous year due to the uncertainty surrounding delayed presidential elections.
A 300-bed hospital was opened in the western province of Herat on Saturday for COVID-19 patients, in the province where the highest number of coronavirus cases have been reported.
The hospital has been established from a converted hotel. A local businessman has turned it into a treatment center for COVID-19 patients.
This is the second center for coronavirus patients in the province; the first was a government-owned public hospital.
Local officials said the capacity of the new hospital will be increase to 1,000 beds if needed.
Much needed aid kept Afghanistan’s fragile health system afloat in the wake of the crippling coronavirus pandemic amid raging insurgency and lingering political tensions.
As a freight train carrying 500 tons of food aid from neighboring Uzbekistan docked in northern Afghanistan on Friday, official figures on virus patients by the health ministry indicated the pandemic was making inroads in the landlocked country’s capital of Kabul.
Dr. Waheedullah Mayar, an adviser on strategic affairs at the Health Ministry, told Anadolu Agency that COVID-19 has now entered the critical epidemic phase in Kabul by infecting citizens with no track record of travel to epicenters such as Iran, Italy or China.
“We are more vulnerable than many other nations on the planet due to numerous factors such as the socio-economic and political instability and insecurity,” he said.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed that a patient has died of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in capital Kabul.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar said, the new death as a result of COVID-19 in the capital brings the total number of deaths to 7 across the country.
Mayar had earlier confirmed that the positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has risen to 299 across the country.
He added that so far 299 positive cases have been recorded in various provinces of Afghanistan.
Following the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a video conference called for Afghan people’s unity.
“This is the time for Afghans to show national unity in the national interest, to achieve peace in Afghanistan, but also to fight COVID-19,” Stoltenberg said.
He declared that NATO ministers discussed Afghanistan and the continued commitment to long-term peace and stability in the country.
” To support the peace efforts, we are reducing our presence to around 12,000 by the summer.
No decision for a further reduction has been taken.
And all of our steps will be conditions-based,” he added.
He also welcomed efforts to set up an inclusive team for the inter-Afghan negotiations and called on the Taliban and all political actors to play their part which includes reducing violence.
Amed groups in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya have not fully adhered to a United Nations call to lay down their guns during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the world body’s chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.
Speaking with reporters via a video link, Guterres said that his call for a global ceasefire had been well received around the world by Pope Francis and many others as part of efforts to tackle COVID-19 and the economic chaos it has unleashed.
But he noted that violence has “spiked” in Yemen and “escalated” in Libya, while Syria has witnessed ongoing tensions, even as the country has recorded some local COVID-19 cases that could prove too much for the country’s battered health system.
In Afghanistan, Guterres noted that fighting “increased” after his call for a ceasefire but that later the government and the Taliban launched long-awaited talks for ending decades of grueling conflict there.
“We need robust diplomatic efforts to meet these challenges. To silence the guns, we must raise the voices for peace.”
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health has warned of a health catastrophe in the country as the number of coronavirus cases rise in Afghanistan, and urged the Afghan people to prioritize hygiene and act responsibly to overcome the challenge as soon as possible.
The Health Ministry warned of increasing cases, and reiterated their call for the people to stay in their homes.
So far, up to 299 positive cases of COVID-19 have been registered in the 19 provinces of the country. “11 new cases in Kabul, one in Nangarhar and also Kandahar, Daikundi and Baghlan also registered one case each,” said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says at least 18 new positive cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Afghanistan.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar said on Saturday that of the 85 suspected cases of coronavirus which were registered during the past 24 hours, 18 of them were confirmed positive.
According to Mayar, 11 new cases were registered in Kabul, two in Samangan, and one in each provinces of Faryab, Kunduz, Balkh, Ghazni and Logar provinces.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches to 299 so far.