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Afghan civilians ‘being slaughtered on a daily basis’



(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

Amnesty International has raised its voice over the spate of bloody attacks in Afghanistan in the past week and said parties to the peace talks are failing to protect the lives of civilians. 

The watchdog said it is Afghan civilians who continue to pay the price for the conflict. 

Head of South Asia at Amnesty International Omar Waraich bluntly said: “The world must sit up and take notice. Afghan civilians are being slaughtered on a daily basis.’

“While the parties talk peace, we’ve seen a marked escalation in violence this month, with Afghan civilians as ever paying the heaviest price,” he said.

“We urge all parties to the conflict to take all measures necessary to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law. The international community must make the protection of civilians a core demand for their ongoing support of the peace process.”

The deaths this week – totaling at least 50 civilians – are the latest in a bloody month for civilians in Afghanistan, Amnesty International stated. 

Last Saturday seven civilians were killed in Ghor province by a roadside bomb. The following day, a car bomb explosion outside a police station in Ghor’s capital Feroz Koh killed 16 and injured 125 others. Then, on Tuesday, roadside bombs in Jalriz district and Maidan Wardak province killed 11 people and injured four more, among other incidents.

Twelve children are also said to have been killed in Takhar province in an airstrike overnight Wednesday. 

Intense fighting between the Afghan government and Taliban forces over the past two weeks in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah is still ongoing and has so far forced at least 40,000 people to flee their homes.

In yet another tragedy this week, at least 15 Afghans were killed in a stampede at a stadium in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province while trying to apply for visas to Pakistan. 

Amnesty International has now called on the Afghan and Pakistani authorities to work together to urgently establish a safe and efficient procedure for Afghan nationals wishing to travel across the border.

The watchdog said that many of those killed had been trying to secure medical visas to enter Pakistan.

“This is a heartbreaking loss of people who were simply trying to access medical care, which has become an even more precious commodity in the middle of a pandemic,” said Waraich.

“With thousands more seeking to cross the border to receive what could be life-saving treatment, it’s vital that the Afghan and Pakistani authorities work together to quickly establish an efficient and safe visa application process.”


Uzbeks refuse to return military aircraft flown from Afghanistan last year



(Last Updated On: April 30, 2022)

Uzbekistan authorities say dozens of aircraft flown into their country in August last year, during the collapse of the former government, belong to the United States and will not be returned to the interim government in Kabul.

Afghan air force personnel flew almost 50 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to Uzbekistan in mid-August as former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) forces took control.

Several more aircraft and Black Hawk helicopters were also taken to neighboring Tajikistan.

The IEA has however repeatedly requested that these aircraft are returned to Afghanistan.

But in a recent interview with VOA, Ismatulla Irgashev, a senior presidential adviser, said the aircraft would not be going back to Kabul.

“The U.S. government paid for them,” said Irgashev, his nation’s most senior diplomat dealing with Afghan matters. “It funded the previous Afghan government. So, we believe it is totally up to Washington how to deal with them.

“We’ve kept this military equipment in agreement with the U.S. and have told the Taliban (IEA) so.”

Little has been said since about the issue, in part because of the sensitivity of the issue in Uzbek-Afghan relations and the reluctance of officials on all sides to discuss it, VOA reported.

But U.S. defense officials confirmed to VOA that both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have no plans to give the aircraft to the IEA.

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Blinken and Austin visit Kyiv; announce assistance package to Ukraine



(Last Updated On: April 25, 2022)

The United States announced new military assistance for Ukraine and a renewed diplomatic push in the war-ravaged nation as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state and Pentagon chief completed a secrecy-shrouded trip to Kyiv.

In the highest-level American visit to the capital since Russia invaded in late February, top envoy Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, and his advisers that the U.S. would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition, the Associated Press reported.

They also said Biden would soon announce his nominee to be ambassador to Ukraine and that American diplomats who left Ukraine before the war would start returning to the country this coming week. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will remain closed for the moment.

Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries; some $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv. The remainder will be split among NATO members and other nations that have provided Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia began, officials said.

U.S. officials said they believed the new assistance would satisfy at least some of the Ukrainians’ urgent pleas for more help. New artillery, including howitzers, continues to be delivered at a rapid pace to Ukraine’s military, which is being trained on its use in neighboring countries, the officials said.


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UN chief heading to Turkey ahead of Moscow, Kyiv visits



(Last Updated On: April 24, 2022)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a UN statement said on Saturday.

Guterres will visit the Turkish capital on Monday, where he will be received by President Tayyip Erdogan, the statement said.

The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said on April 18 that Turkey was a valuable host for humanitarian talks between Ukraine and Russia.

Eri Kaneko, Guterres’ associate spokesperson, told a news briefing on Friday that Guterres would head to Moscow on Tuesday and meet Putin as well as have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, hoping to discuss what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The United Nations also said on Friday that Guterres would meet with Zelenskiy on Thursday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and staff at UN agencies to discuss the scaling up of humanitarian assistance efforts.

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