Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) in Kabul have banned motorcycles and scooters in the Afghan capital in a bid to control rampant crime and stop assailants on two-wheelers from conducting targeted killings, officials said Tuesday.
The ban, which takes effect Wednesday, comes after a string of assaults by armed men on motorbikes.
Delivery riders, who are seeing heavy demand amid Kabul’s coronavirus lockdown, will be exempted.
“Most of the crimes in the city, including targeted killings and other crimes, are carried out using motorbikes,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
“We have therefore decided to ban the use of the motorbikes in Kabul city and its districts.”
Motorcycle bans have been implemented in some other parts of Afghanistan, but this is the first restriction in the capital.
The Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan the Coronavirus won’t stop RS from providing critical supplies to Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as they ensure security for the Afghan people.
“NATO Resolute Support continues to stand behind our ANDSF partners while we battle the COVID19 epidemic together and prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorism,” RS said in a statement.
“RS transferred over 3 million rounds of small arms and heavy machine gun ammo to ANDSF partners April 10 in Kabul,” the statement added.
Afghan authorities have inaugurated the first factory that would produce masks and protective kits in capital Kabul, amid coronavirus pandemic.
The factory is expected to produce between 300,000 and 500,000 protective kits, Afghan Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said at the inauguration ceremony.
Each kit would cost the government five dollars, he said.
“According to the assessment of other countries, around 10 percent of health workers have been infected with coronavirus, and producing protective kits for doctors is our responsibility so that we could save the lives of health workers,” Feroz added.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, urges greater support to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that leaving Afghans and their host communities behind will have a far-reaching and negative impact on global efforts to fight the virus.
UNHCR in a press release said, “The coronavirus poses a very great threat to developing nations. An outbreak would put extraordinary strain on already fragile local health-care services and likely result in avoidable suffering and death.”
According to the press release, as the race against time continues globally, UNHCR appeals to the international community to boost solidarity with all three countries, and have at this critical time to prevent a larger-scale outbreak of the coronavirus among the most vulnerable communities.
“Despite persistent risks and insecurity, Afghans continue to return from both Iran and Pakistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan citizens have crossed over from Pakistan to Afghanistan since the temporary re-opening of the border last week. From Iran, while the number of Afghans nationals returning peaked at some 60,000 in March, around 1,500 individuals are currently returning every day,”the press release reads.
UNHCR added that Afghanistan faces the prospect of overwhelmed medical and social services, with a dramatic increase in Afghans returning home, hundreds of thousands of people living in displacement sites and rising poverty levels.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says at least 49 new confirmed cases of coronavirus were registered in the country during the past 24 hours.
MoPH officials on Tuesday said that the new cases include 18 in Kabul, 15 in Kandahar, 6 in Balkh, 4 in Herat, 4 in Ghazni and two in Nangarhar province.
The Ministry added that with the registration of the new cases, the number of coronavirus cases in Afghanistan reaches to 714.
This comes as 23 patients infected with the coronavirus have been recovered and 40 other died of the virus in Afghanistan so far.
The International Monetary Fund will provide immediate debt service relief to 25 member countries under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to allow them to focus their scarce resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Monday. Afghanistan is also among those countries.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in a statement said the Fund’s executive board on Monday approved the first batch of countries to receive grants to cover their debt service obligations to the Fund for an initial six months.
She said the CCRT currently had about $500 million in resources, including new pledges of $185 million from Britain, $100 million from Japan, and undisclosed amounts from China, the Netherlands and others. The fund is pushing to raise the amount available to $1.4 billion.
About $215 million of the total would be used for grants to the first 25 countries over the next six months, with extensions possible up to two years, an IMF spokeswoman said.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” Georgieva said in a statement.
She urged other donor countries to help replenish the CCRT and boost the fund’s ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to its poorest member countries.
The health officials in Nangarhar province say at least two new cases of coronavirus have been registered in the province during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of Nangarhar governor, Attuallah Khogyani said that with the registration of the new cases, the number of people infected with the coronavirus reaches to 10.
According to Khogyani, 39 suspected cases were recorded in the province’s laboratory which two of them registered positive.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches 667.
The US has expressed appreciation for India’s move to provide wheat to land-locked Afghanistan saying COVID-19 has made regional connectivity and working together more important than ever.
“COVID-19 has made regional connectivity and working together more important than ever. Great to see India working with Afghanistan to provide 75,000 MT of wheat as well as medication during this difficult time. Together we will get through this challenge,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells.
India had shipped the first consignment of 5,022 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat to Afghanistan to ensure food security during this difficult phase.
“251 containers carrying the first consignment of 5,022 MT of wheat out of the total gift of 75,000 MT from India to Afghanistan set sail from Kandla port to Chabahar port today. The remaining consignments will follow in the weeks ahead,” the Indian embassy in Afghanistan had announced.
Last year, India Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar had said that India would gift 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.
The state-owned electricity company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) has said that the income of the company has reduced by 60% following the Coronavirus outbreak.
Officials in DABS warned if the government doesn’t issue the loan; the company will not be able to afford to buy electricity from domain countries.
The spokesman of DABS, Wahidullah Tawhidi declared that the company needed a loan of $50 million to meet its problems.
He warned that without the loan, no electricity could be purchased from the neighboring countries.
Tawhidi added, “Afghanistan’s electricity is imported, and we pay $25 million to the neighboring countries every month; therefore, we want the government to give us a loan of $50 million.”
This comes as the Ministry of Finance has said that the requisition of DABS for the loan has been under process.
A large group of Afghan civil society organizations in Afghanistan and abroad have signed a petition in support of the United Nations’ call for a humanitarian ceasefire, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan.
In the petition, they urged US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as the European Union, NATO and P5 leaders to support this initiative by the UN.
In a statement, the organizations called on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to agree to a full and immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
They said the coronavirus pandemic will not wait for intra-Afghan negotiations to agree to a comprehensive ceasefire.