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ATRA: Internet and call charges dropped significantly



(Last Updated On: May 17, 2023)

Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) said on Tuesday that for the first time, a ceiling has been set on the charges of internet and phone calls across the country, and there has been a 40-50% reduction in costs.

ATRA spokesman said that previously 1GB data cost 250 afghanis, but now the price has been set at 110 afghanis.

“The rate of calls from one network to another is set at 2.2 Afghani per minute. Previously, calls were charged every sixty seconds, but now it has been reduced to 30 seconds. For example, if we call someone and talk for five or six seconds, it used to count as sixty seconds, but now it counts as 30 seconds.

“There has been a significant reduction in the price of the internet. The price of one GB of internet for telecommunication companies is set at 110 Afghanis and they cannot offer more than this,” said Jalal Shams, ATRA’s spokesman.

The authority said that telecommunication coverage has increased compared to the past and telecommunication services have been expanded in remote areas. Officials said that ATRA earned 1.2 billion Afghanis in the solar year 1401.

“The plan that ATRA is currently working on is quality improvement. The most important one is standard frequency. A standard frequency is given for telecommunication networks. Work on the distribution mechanism is ongoing. Currently, the frequency that telecommunication networks use for 4G is not the 4G frequency. They use 3G frequency for 4G, the reason why there is a problem with the quality,” Shams said.

Citizens also call on the government and telecommunications companies to improve the quality of services in addition to reducing the rates of internet services and telephone calls.

“We are satisfied with the government for reducing internet packages. But the demand of Afghan people from internet service providers is that the quality should be improved, because the quality is very low,” said Musawir Darwesh, a Kabul resident.

“Alhamdulillah, we are satisfied with the internet, but we don’t have the internet as we should have,” said Reshad Insan Dost, a Kabul resident.

There are currently five telecommunication companies operating in the country, and the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) has the largest coverage in the country.

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EU calls for investigation into poisoning of Afghan schoolgirls



(Last Updated On: June 8, 2023)

The European Union has called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to investigate the poisoning of primary schoolgirls in northern Sar-e-Pul province after at least 77 students were hospitalized.

Two separate attacks took place in Sar-e-Pul province on Saturday and Sunday, local authorities said.

Sixty schoolgirls were poisoned in Naswan-e-Kabod Aab School and 17 others were poisoned in Naswan-e-Faizabad, said the head of the provincial education department Mohammad Rahmani. He said the attacks happened at the start of classes and students were vomiting and had asthma, vertigo and headaches.

Rahmani said the department’s initial investigation showed the person who orchestrated the poisonings had a personal grudge and that a third party was paid to carry out the attacks. He has not said what kind of substance officials believe the girls were poisoned with, and local authorities have not provided updates on the attack.

The EU in a statement called the poisonings a “heinous crime that needs to be followed up by the de facto authorities,” in line with their obligations to protect the population under international law.

“Right to education is the human right of all children, everywhere. Schools need to be safe places for all children.”

In a tweet on Wednesday, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West said he was deeply concerned by reports that scores of schoolgirls may have been poisoned in Afghanistan’s Sar-e Pul province. “Urge every measure be taken to investigate and keep children safe! Afghans deserve education without fear or restrictions,” he said.

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24 people including 8 children die in Sar-e-Pul traffic accident



(Last Updated On: June 7, 2023)

At least 24 people died in a traffic accident on Wednesday in Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan, local officials said.

Din Mohammad Nazari, the spokesman of the Sar-e-Pul Province Police Command, said eight children, 12 women and four men died in the accident.

According to Nazari the accident happened in Sayad Sarpul district on Wednesday afternoon when a passenger vehicle left the round.

Nazari said the accident was the result of careless driving.

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US special envoy says reports of IEA crackdown on poppies are ‘credible’



(Last Updated On: June 7, 2023)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West said on Wednesday that reports about the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) cracking down on poppy cultivation are “credible and important”.

West said in a tweet that “reports that the Taliban (IEA) have implemented policies to significantly decrease opium poppy production this year are credible and important.

“Every country in the region and beyond has a shared interest in an Afghanistan free of drugs,” he said.

His comments come after the BBC reported on Tuesday that an investigation by the media outlet found a marked decrease in poppy cultivation across Afghanistan this year.

The BBC reported that it traveled in Afghanistan – and used satellite analysis – to examine the effects of a decree issued in April 2022 by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada that the cultivation of poppies, from which opium, the key ingredient for the drug heroin can be extracted, was strictly prohibited.

The news outlet stated that IEA leaders appear to have been more successful cracking down on cultivation than anyone ever has.

“We found a huge fall in poppy growth in major opium-growing provinces, with one expert saying annual cultivation could be 80% down on last year. Less-profitable wheat crops have supplanted poppies in fields – and many farmers say they are suffering financially,” the report stated.

Provinces visited by the BBC included Nangarhar, Kandahar and Helmand. Studies of satellite images were also done.

“It is likely that cultivation will be less than 20% of what it was in 2022. The scale of the reduction will be unprecedented,” said David Mansfield, a leading expert on Afghanistan’s drugs trade, who is working with Alcis – a UK firm which specializes in satellite analysis.

Alcis’s analysis shows that poppy cultivation in Helmand has reduced by more than 99%. “The high resolution imagery of Helmand province shows that poppy cultivation is down to less than 1,000 hectares when it was 129,000 hectares the previous year,” said David Mansfield.

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