The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday it has approved $405 million in grants to support food security and help sustain the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people.
According to a statement issued by the ADB, under its Sustaining Essential Services Delivery Project (Support for Afghan People), ADB will provide direct financing to four United Nations (UN) agencies operating in Afghanistan.
This is for immediate humanitarian support in response to the unprecedented crisis and to help sustain the country’s human development, the statement read.
According to UN estimates, 22.8 million people are at risk of acute food insecurity.
These funds will enable the provision of emergency food to over 800,000 people and farm inputs, fertilizers, or small farm equipment to around 390,000 households. Around 168,000 people will be covered under food-for-work and cash-for-work programs.
In addition, $200 million will go towards maintaining basic health care and essential hospital services, covering a target population of about 5.3 million people, and the procurement and deployment of 2.3 million single-dose COVID-19 vaccines.
Other initiatives will also be driven through the use of the grant money that includes community-based education classes, for boys and girls; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will monitor project implementation, undertake macroeconomic and social assessments in the country, and assess the impact of ADB’s assistance.
IEA signs agreement with UAE to manage Afghanistan’s airports
A contract for the regulation and management of the country’s four airports was signed with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said.
The agreement was signed between Hamidullah Akhundzada, acting head of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, and Razzaq Aslam, CEO of GAAC, a UAE based consortium with specialist expertise in airport management.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhowa, Acting Minister of Information and Culture, and other government officials attended the signing event.
The agreement comes as Turkey and Qatar have been negotiating with Islamic Emirate officials for months to manage Afghanistan’s international airfields, however, the negotiations stalled when the IEA opposed requests for foreign forces to secure the airports.
The airports involved are Kabul, Herat and Kandahar.
The company will be responsible for unloading and loading of planes after landing and before takeoff.
At the signing ceremony, the First Deputy Prime Minister called on international investors to invest in Afghanistan, and said the Islamic Emirate is committed to providing them with the necessary investment opportunities.
At the signing ceremony of the contract, the First Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that the IEA is working hard to strengthen the country’s economy.
“With this contract, all international airlines will start their flights to Afghanistan in a safe and reliable environment, and it will help us to increase trading and business with other countries,” Baradar said.
Ministry of Transport officials say the company will provide ground-based services in line with international standards, leading to an increase in international flights.
However, the Deputy Prime Minister says that flights into and out of Kabul will soon increase and Afghanistan’s revenue will increase through air corridors.
Pakistan reopens several additional borders crossings with Afghanistan
Pakistan has decided to reopen several additional border crossings with Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq said on Monday.
“The crossings are to facilitate economic activity and regulate the visitors,” Sadiq tweeted.
According to Sadiq Arandu between Chitral and Kunar and Benshahi between Lower Dir and Kunar are the first two crossings of the series to be made operational.
Sadiq said these crossings are in addition to five fully operational border crossings of Torkham, Ghulam Khan, Kharlachi, Angoor Adda and Chaman-Spin Boldak and one partially opened, Dalbnadeen, crossing.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has not yet commented.
IEA bans wheat exports due to a shortage for domestic needs
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has banned the export of wheat, citing a shortage in meeting the domestic market demand as the reason.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Afghanistan needs 6.5 million tons of wheat annually, but domestic production totals only four million tons.
The IEA imposed the ban after videos emerged on social media recently of wheat being smuggled through Spin Boldak in Kandahar into Pakistan.
The Ministry of Finance has meanswhile also asked all customs departments to prevent shipments of wheat from leaving the country and to crack down on smuggling.
According to a ministry spokesman: “We stopped the export of wheat because we still need it, so the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance started the export ban process.”
Officials from the Afghan Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock welcomed the move, adding that the smuggling of all products and produce out of the country, including wheat, should be stopped.
“We are happy with this move by the Islamic Emirate, because now our wheat will be processed inside our own country, and investment has been made in this area. Our country now has the capacity to process it,” said Mirwais Hajizada, deputy director of the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock.
Economic experts also said that banning the country’s wheat exports is essential in terms of managing the national economy and developing the country’s domestic production.
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