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Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation falls by 85% under IEA rule

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Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reportedly dropped by 85% following the return to power of the Islamic Emirate, new analysis shows.

In April last year, the IEA’s supreme leader issued a decree prohibiting poppy farming across the country. Almost 18 months later, the ban is being described by experts as “the most successful counter-narcotics effort in human history”.

Nationwide poppy cultivation is below 30,000 hectares for 2023, compared to more than 210,000 hectares in 2022, according to satellite imagery analysis from Alcis, a geographic information services company, the UK-based Telegraph reported.

Helmand, Farah and Nimroz have recorded the greatest reductions in cultivation, at 99, 95 and 91 percent respectively, Alcis said.

“There is now little doubt that farmers across vast swathes of the country abandoned opium production this year,” the analysis said.

After a year-long ban, experts are waiting to see if the IEA’s edict will last for a second season, which starts each November with the planting of poppy seeds.

“We are in uncharted waters,” said Dr David Mansfield, a UK expert on illicit economies in Afghanistan, in comments that accompanied Alcis’ analysis, the Telegraph reported.

Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan expert at Crisis Group, told the Telegraph in July that the IEA’s crackdown has so far been “the most successful counter-narcotics effort in human history, according to the volume of drugs taken off the market”.

However, Mansfield said there “is already considerable evidence that the current ban has not been uniformly accepted by the rural population or by those within the Taliban’s own ranks responsible for implementing it.”

Alcis’ analysis shows that poppy cultivation increased from 13,803 hectares to 15,391 hectares in the mountainous Badakhshan province throughout 2023. It said there has also been “persistent cultivation in the upper reaches of the mountains of southern Nangarhar”.

“When the economic impact of a ban on poppy cultivation is felt collectively across a growing population, local resistance can quickly escalate, prompting those in the districts responsible for enforcement to retreat, unwilling to impose further losses on their own families, neighbours, and communities,” said Mansfield.

It’s estimated the Taliban’s poppy ban has wiped out the equivalent of 450,000 full-time jobs in agriculture – a major hit to an economy still reeling from drought, conflict and cuts to development programmes.

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UNSC’s ceasefire resolution an ‘initial step’ to ending Palestinian ‘genocide’: IEA

The IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” and supports the historic right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state.

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Deputy spokesperson for the foreign ministry Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal says the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the adoption of this week’s resolution by the United Nations Security Council aimed at ending the war in Gaza as an initial step to end the genocide of the people in Gaza.

Takal said in a statement on Wednesday that it requires realistic negotiation to lead to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, ensuring a normal life for its people.

IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” – IEA foreign ministry

He stated that the IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” and supports the historic right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state.

Ceasefire resolution

The UN Security Council on Monday overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The US-sponsored resolution welcomes a cease-fire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the United States says Israel has accepted.

It calls on the militant Palestinian group Hamas to accept the three-phase plan.

The resolution — which was approved with 14 of the 15 Security Council members voting in favor and Russia abstaining — calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Whether Israel and Hamas agree to go forward with the plan remains in question, but the resolution’s strong support in the UN’s most powerful body puts added pressure on both parties to approve the proposal.

Netanyahu has been skeptical of the deal, saying that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

 

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AWCC opens new customer services center in Parun, Nuristan

Nuristan residents have welcomed the opening of AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services in the province

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Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) has officially opened a new customer services center in Parun city, the capital of Nuristan province.

AWCC officials said at the launch of the new center that customers experiencing problems with AWCC can now visit the facility for assistance – for both mobile phone and internet services.

Attaullah Sahil, head of AWCC in the eastern zone, said that telecommunication facilities will also now be increased for residents of Parun city.

Local officials, meanwhile, stated that in most areas of Nuristan, people do not have access to telecommunication and internet services and that they are trying to expand such services in the province.

“We are happy that Afghan Wireless opened its customer service office in Paron city,” said Khalid Fateh, the local director of the telecommunication and information department.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless” – Nuristan resident

“We request that Afghan Wireless activate its sales offices in every district of Nuristan,” Fateh added.

Officials also said that security of telecommunication infrastructure in the province is secure enough for companies to expand their networks.

Nuristan residents have meanwhile welcomed the opening of the AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services.

They have however called for the cost of the services to be reduced.

“Many thanks to Afghan Wireless for building this big office,” a resident said.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless. We want more conveniences,” said another resident.

Making a difference

AWCC was recognised as Afghanistan’s Telecom Company of the Year at the 2024 Asian Telecom Awards earlier this year.

This award reflects the company’s market leadership in Afghanistan, with more than five million subscribers, the country’s largest 4G LTE network and a growing high-speed, nationwide fiber network.

In the last year, AWCC has increased its active customer base by more than 10%, primarily driven by increased data users attracted by the company’s pioneering digital-first products and services, including its innovative ASAN mobile application.

To meet this rapidly growing data demand across the country, AWCC upgraded and expanded its market-leading mobile network by almost 15%, adding nearly 200 sites to reach even more rural and remote regions.

In parallel, the company inaugurated its Kabul-Mazar-Hairaton fiber route, connecting Central Asia to South Asia and placing Afghanistan at the center of the region’s digital connectivity hub.

AWCC also ramped up its efforts to help Afghanistan and its people in the past year by utilizing its technology to deliver critical support to tackle several humanitarian challenges.

The company mobilized swiftly to provide emergency connectivity, financial, logistics and humanitarian assistance following a series of severe earthquakes in Herat, and ongoing communications support for the influx of returnees at Afghanistan’s borders, through the set-up of temporary mobile sites and distribution of free SIM cards.

Asian Telecom Awards honors businesses and initiatives like AWCC that have not only driven progress in the telecom industry but have also ignited transformative shifts that have reshaped the digital landscape.

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Iran Air starts flights to Kabul

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The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said Wednesday that Iran Air International Airlines has launched direct flights to Kabul for the first time.

The ministry said in a statement that Iran Air will have flights to Kabul once a week.

According to the statement, Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air, Mahan, Kish, and Yazd Airlines also have flights to Iran.

Earlier, Turkish Airlines also resumed its flights to Kabul.

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