Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has announced three new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar on Sunday said that of 48 suspected cases in the laboratories in the past 24 hours, three of them confirmed positive.
Mayar noted that two cases were reported in Herat and one in Nimroz province.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases in Afghanistan reaches to 120.
Pakistan’s authorities have announced the closure of eastern and western borders both for trade and passenger traffic for two more weeks.
“The closure duration of two weeks of the borders has come to an end and therefore NCC has decided to extend the restriction for another two weeks. Both passenger traffic and trade has been stopped at the borders with Afghanistan, Iran and India, which includes Kartarpur Corridor as well,” National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman General Muhammad Afzal said.
Wahid Omar at a press conference on Sunday in Kabul responded to the Taliban statement about the Afghan peace delegation being “against the agreement between the Taliban and the US,” saying the Taliban must not raise issues with our delegation, as we also can raise issues with theirs.
All the prisoners released at one time would be not possible, and there are conditions, Omar said, adding that the delegation that has been announced will represent “a united Afghanistan.”
“We have never said what kind of Taliban should form a delegation, so we are asking the Taliban to not make an issue out of it,” he said.
“We hope that the Taliban also forms their delegation and the intra-Afghan talks can start,” he said.
Earlier the Taliban released a statement saying that the group has some reservations about the peace negotiating team formed by the Afghan government and that the Afghan government can take part in the intra-Afghan talks “only as a side like other Afghan factions.”
“The team announced by the (Afghan govt) is…against the peace agreement between the Taliban and the US,” said the Taliban statement.
“In order to reach lasting and real peace, this should be formed with the agreement of all sides, so that it can represent others too. But it looks like other sides are not satisfied with the team announced,” the statement said.
The General Directorate of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan has announced readiness to dedicate its halls and stadiums to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for quarantining the coronavirus patients.
Through a letter to MoPH, the GDPESA stated that if needed, it can allow its dorms and sports halls in Kabul and provinces to be used fo coronavirus patients.
This comes as since two weeks ago all sports activities have been stopped after the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.
The Indian staff at the two consulates in Herat and Jalalabad were brought to Kabul as part of precautionary measures following the swelling number of coronavirus cases in Afghanistan, media reported.
“Better facilities in Kabul is also another reason for shifting the diplomats,” it said.
This comes as earlier this week, four Servicemembers of NATO in Afghanistan tested positive for the coronavirus.
Afghan local officials say at least 11 security forces have been killed and wounded in Taliban’s attack in Kejran District of Daikundi province.
The spokesperson of Daikundi governor, Sakina Ehsani told Reporterly, “the Taliban insurgents attacked the security outposts in Kandawiha area of Kejran district on Saturday night.
She noted that four local police were killed and seven others were wounded in the incident.
The spokesperson added that the clashes started at around 01:00am and continued up to 04:00am which now the area is under the control of the security forces.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) says at least nine Taliban insurgents including a commander have been killed and seven others wounded in Herat province.
MoD in a statement said that the Taliban insurgents were targeted by the security forces when they were attempting to storm security outposts in Karkh District of the province.
MoD added that a top Taliban commander names Arif was killed and and Shafi another commander was wounded in the incident.
In response to Taliban’s statement, opposing the Afghan government’s negotiating team, the State Ministry for Peace (SMP) says the negotiating team was formed after extensive consultations with the influential segments of the Afghan society and its inclusiveness is the responsibility of the government, not the Taliban group.
Najia Anwari, a spokesperson to the SMP said Sunday that the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was formed after extensive consultations with the influential segments of the Afghan society.
“Ensuring the engagement of the people and the inclusiveness of the delegation is the responsibility of the government of Afghanistan, not the Taliban,” she twitted.
“The Afghan government is the only address for the Taliban to negotiate peace with. Taliban’s war is against the government, and this delegation was formed and announced by the government. Interference in the affairs of the other party in the negotiations is unexpected and unusual,” she added.
The novel coronavirus pandemic that has forced billions of people across the globe to stay home is making parents skip routine immunizations for their kids, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF warned.
The phenomenon is being aggravated by overburdened health services where medical workers are being diverted from giving vaccines to focus on the COVID-19 response.
Some governments might even have to postpone mass immunization campaigns as a way of slowing the disease’s spread, UNICEF said.
Of particular concern are impoverished and war-torn countries battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan.
“At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Fore said in a statement.
“Medical goods are in short supply and supply chains are under historic strain due to transport disruptions. Flight cancellations and trade restrictions by countries have severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines.”
Fore added that in the near future, governments may need to postpone preventive mass vaccination campaigns — where people group together to receive inoculations — to ensure these do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
UNICEF recommended governments begin rigorous planning now to boost immunization campaigns for as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
Afghanistan is one of only three countries, along with Pakistan and Nigeria, where polio remains endemic.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan were struggling to vaccinate kids as local populations viewed inoculation teams with suspicion.
Opposition grew after the CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
The Taliban last week pledged to cooperate with healthcare workers in combatting the coronavirus.
The UNHCR, in partnership with the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC), has announced technical skills training opportunities for 2,500 Pakistanis and Afghan refugees.
The three to six-month trainings will be offered at NAVTTC-recognized institutes across Pakistan. Certificates and tool kits will be provided upon completion in order to enable students to seize livelihood opportunities.
“UNHCR supports these trainings to empower young people so that they can find a decent living and become productive members of society,” said UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Pakistan Iain Hall, adding “we encourages ambitious youth to come forward and apply online on the NAVTTC website by April 30, 2020 to be considered for this valuable training.”
Previously, more than 3,500 Pakistanis and Afghan refugees have been trained since 2018.