Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
COVID-19 is spreading quickly across Afghanistan and with it, concerns for its disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among the Afghan people, including returnees.
In Afghanistan, returnees are among the high-risk groups afflicted by the present COVID-19 crisis as they have limited access to basic services, especially healthcare, and also face loss of income and livelihoods because of the countrywide lockdown, International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Afghans have lived through decades of war, but now they are up against an unprecedented challenge that is global in its spread and impact. Ordinary Afghans, like many other poor people around the world, are faced with the dual burden of the novel contagious disease on the one hand, and on the other, the ensuing economic instability brought about by the COVID-induced lockdown.
In its efforts to respond to the coronavirus crisis, IOM is actively supporting the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and WHO in addressing preparedness and emergency coordination through its Migration Health Unit in Afghanistan. However, the multi-pronged threat faced by the returnees continues to remain a major concern.
The governor of the Faryab province, Naqibullah Faiq thanked President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for humanitarian aid, reports Turkmenistan’s State News Agency.
“On behalf of the people of Faryab province, I express my gratitude for the humanitarian aid provided over the years to the people of Afghanistan, especially to our province, in various fields. We hope that this assistance will continue in the future,” he said.
“We also express our deep gratitude to you for your humanitarian assistance on the occasion of the Holy month of Eid. We are confident that your special friendly attitude towards the Afghan people will strengthen the friendly and fraternal ties between the two countries in the interests of both people,” said the head of the Faryab province.
According to the Turkmen president’s decree, The Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan donated food products to Afghanistan in the beginning of this month.
European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid has furthered its funding to World Health Organization (WHO) in Afghanistan with an additional €2.8 million to the WHO Health Emergencies Programme to support the country’s fight against COVID-19, the European Union said in a press release.
According to the press release, WHO will use the funding during a period of 12 months to reach 400 000 vulnerable population in the country affected by COVID-19, including internally displaced population and returnees from Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.
“With this support, the WHO Health Emergencies Programme will also be able to scale up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, in addition to providing essential trauma care and addressing urgent humanitarian needs across the country,” the press release added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says 253 new cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the country during the past 24 hours.
The deputy minister of health, Wahid Majroh said in a press release that with the registration of the new cases, the total number of confirmed cases reaches 4,033.
According to the health authorities, at least 6 coronavirus patients have died of the virus during the past 24 hours and 29 others have recovered.
This comes as 392 health staff have been infected with the coronavirus in Afghanistan so far.
A huge surge in opium production in Afghanistan caused by the coronavirus threatens to flood western markets with cheap opium and heroin.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that farmers in Afghanistan’s opium-producing region in Kandahar Province are increasing their cultivation of opium poppy crops in an effort to survive economically.
The amount of land under cultivation has increased by more than 60 percent over the last 10 years, and today, 649,887 acres are under cultivation.
The Daily Mail claimed “Afghanistan’s cheap heroin to flood Britain,” because of the surge in production.
UN inspectors are predicting that this year’s harvest will be between 1,900 and 2,700 tons – a rise of up to 1,400 percent in 12 months.
In 2018, the UN reported that Afghanistan produced 82 percent of the world’s opium supply, Breitbart News reported.
While the US has tried working with the government of Afghanistan to limit opium production because it finances the Taliban, farmers there say they are forced to grow opium to keep out of poverty.
Afghan officials at the Public Health department in Herat province say 71 new cases of the coronavirus were registered in the province during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of Herat Public Health Department, Muhammad Rafiq Sherzai said that 143 suspected cases of coronavirus were tested in the laboratory during the past 24 hours which 71 of them confirmed positive.
According to Sherzai, the new cases include 40 men and 31 women.
According to the health department, the death toll from coronavirus in Herat rises to 19 and 174 patients have been recovered so far.
The Al-Gharrafa Qatari Foundation provided food aid to 500 needy families in Kabul and more than 4,000 families in Farah province.
According to Mr. Javad, the executive director of the foundation, the assisted materials included flour, rice, beans and green tea, which were distributed to 500 families at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, and will be donated to 2,000 families in the next three days.
The Al-Gharrafa Foundation has been active in agriculture, health, education and infrastructural sectors in Afghanistan since last seven years.