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Amnesty International warns strides made by women ‘under threat’

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(Last Updated On: May 24, 2021)

Amnesty International said Monday that the two decades of hard-won progress by Afghanistan’s women and girls are at serious risk of being unraveled.

The organization raised concerns in a statement that read “the limited involvement of women in the peace talks” and the major strides on women’s rights “are now under threat.”

Amnesty International stated that as international troops continue to leave the country ahead of a full withdrawal on September 11, and with talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at an impasse, the prospects for Afghanistan’s women and girls are at a critical juncture.

“Afghanistan is at a tipping point. As peace talks falter, the conflict continues to take the lives of civilians on an almost daily basis. Taken alongside the forthcoming withdrawal of international troops, Afghanistan is drifting towards an outcome that threatens to undo more than twenty years of progress for women and girls,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

Mishra stated that these negotiations will shape the future for women and girls in Afghanistan and their voices must be heard.

“Now is the time for the Afghan government and its international partners to unequivocally commit and work to ensure that women’s rights and two decades of achievement are not traded off in the peace talks with the Taliban,” she said.

According to the statement, Afghan women were subjected to severe restrictions including being banned from working outside the home and appearing in public without a close male relative under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

“Women and girls were further denied access to education and had limited access to healthcare. These restrictions still invariably apply to women in areas currently controlled by the Taliban,” the statement noted.

“While much work remains to be done, women’s rights have improved significantly since 2001. There are now 3.3 million girls in education, and women more actively participate in the political, economic and social life of the country.”

“Despite the ongoing conflict, Afghan women have become lawyers, doctors, judges, teachers, engineers, athletes, activists, politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, business owners, police officers, and members of the military,” the statement read.

Amnesty International noted that Afghan women still face major obstacles to the full realization of their rights.

“Violence against women is rife, the participation of women at all levels of government remains limited and, according to UNICEF, 2.2 million Afghan girls still do not attend school.”

“In the current peace talks, which began in September 2020, the 21-member Afghan government negotiation team included only four women, with no women represented in the Taliban delegation. In the March peace conference on Afghanistan in Moscow, only one woman was included in the 16-member government delegation.”

“The significant under-representation and frequent side-lining of women throughout these talks are indicative of how far there is still to go. These negotiations will shape the future for women and girls in Afghanistan and their voices must be heard. The Afghan government must ensure inclusive and meaningful participation of women in the talks,” said Yamini Mishra.

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30,000-year-old baby mammoth found almost perfectly preserved in Canada

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A gold miner found a mummified baby wooly mammoth that was almost perfectly preserved in the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Traditional Territory in Yukon, Canada. 

According to a press release from the local government, the female baby mammoth has been named Nun cho ga by the First Nation Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elders, which translates to “big baby animal” in the Hän language. 

Nun cho ga is the most complete mummified mammoth discovered in North America, Science Alert reported.

Nun cho ga died and was frozen in permafrost during the ice age, over 30,000 years ago, said the press release. She would have roamed the Yukon alongside wild horses, cave lions, and giant steppe bison. 

The frozen mammoth was recovered by geologists after a young miner in the Klondike gold fields found the remains while digging up dirt.

Dr. Grant Zazula, the Yukon government’s paleontologist, said the miner had made the “most important discovery in paleontology in North America,” reported The Weather Channel.

The baby mammoth was probably with her mother when it ventured off a little too far and got stuck in the mud, Zazula told The Weather Channel.

Professor Dan Shugar, from the University of Calgary, part of the team who excavated the wooly mammoth, said that this discovery was the “most exciting scientific thing I have ever been part of.”

He described how immaculately the mammoth had been preserved, saying that it still had intact toenails, hide, hair, trunk, and even intestines, with its last meal of grass still present. 

According to the press release, Yukon is renowned for its store of ice age fossils, but rarely are such immaculate and well-preserved finds discovered. Zazula wrote in the press release that “as an ice age paleontologist, it has been one of my lifelong dreams to come face to face with a real wooly mammoth.”

“That dream came true today. Nun cho ga is beautiful and one of the most incredible mummified ice age animals ever discovered in the world.”

The wooly mammoth, about the size of the African elephant, roamed the earth until about 4,000 years ago. Early humans hunted them for food and used mammoth bones and tusks for art, tools, and dwellings. Scientists are divided as to whether hunting or climate change drove them into extinction.

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2,000 hectares of land cleared of poppies in Herat: officials

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Around 2,000 hectares of poppy fields have been cleared in recent months in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, officials said Monday.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in April announced a ban on the cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan.

“If anyone violates the decree the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the sharia law,” a decree issued by IEA’s Supreme Leader Hebatullah Akhundzada read.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate World Drug Day, Hayatullah Rouhani, head of counter-narcotics unit of the provincial police in Herat, assured the public of a serious fight against the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics.

He also said rehabilitation programs for drug addicts in the province was ongoing.

“Experience shows that the drug addiction rate will not decrease unless we round up drug dealers,” Rouhani said. “We have carried out nearly 250 operations in which we rounded up a large number of drug dealers and referred them for prosecution.”

Syed Mohammad Sadat, a provincial health official, said that IEA was seeking to fundamentally include drug addiction rehabilitation in the country’s public health system.

Around 70,000 drug addicts are estimated to be in Herat, mostly living on the streets and in recreation parks.

“They have a wife and children. There is no one without a family. They are addicted due to unemployment. I studied for 12 years, but look I have been forced to live on the street,” said Nazir Ahmad, one drug addict in Herat.

Experts say poverty, unemployment and easy availability of drugs have contributed to the rise in drug addiction.

Counternarcotic police say more than 200 people have been arrested in Herat on charges of drug dealing during the past 10 months. Over 1,000 kilograms of drug have been seized from them.

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Red Crescent allocates 10 Million AFN for earthquake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) has allocated 10 million AFN for the victims of last week’s massive quake in Khost and Paktika provinces. 

Speaking at a press conference Monday in Kabul, officials from ARCS said that they would distribute $100 to each affected family, providing thousands of families with cash.

“The donation will be delivered to the areas with survey teams, and we will distribute them in cash as the locals requested,” said Mullah Nooruddin Torabi, deputy director of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. 

In addition to distributing cash, this organization will also provide blankets, tents, and home and kitchen appliances to the victims.

In addition, Torabi called on national and international humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Paktika and Khost provinces in coordination with the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

Torabi said the aid already sent by neighboring countries and countries around the world has not been enough for the quake victims. 

“We need to establish shelters, clinics, and schools for those who are suffering in the areas where the incident took place,” he added.

He also said that in order to distribute the aid among victims in a transparent manner all domestic and international humanitarian organizations must collaborate with ARCS.

Last week a deadly earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces killed at least 1,200 people and injured more than 2,000 others.

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