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Attacks on healthcare sector a matter of grave concern: UN Report

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2020)

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Sunday issued a report stating it was gravely concerned by recent deliberate attacks on healthcare personnel and facilities, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new special report, released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), details findings of its monitoring of all incidents of the armed conflict affecting healthcare from 11 March, the date the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic, to 23 May, the start of a three-day ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The report titled “Attacks on Healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic,” documents the harm to healthcare workers, damage to healthcare facilities and other ways in which parties to the conflict have “interfered” with necessary healthcare, both as a result of targeted attacks as well as from ongoing fighting, a statement issued Sunday by UNAMA read.

 

According to UNAMA, they had already raised concerns about such incidents in their report for the first quarter of 2020.

“Since then, the situation deteriorated: the Taliban continued abducting healthcare workers and attacked a pharmacy; the Afghan national security forces carried out deliberate acts of violence and intimidation affecting a healthcare facility, workers and the delivery of medical supplies; and unknown gunmen perpetrated an attack on a maternity ward in a hospital in Kabul, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties,” the statement read.

Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, meanwhile said: “At a time when an urgent humanitarian response was required to protect every life in Afghanistan, both the Taliban and Afghan national security forces carried out deliberate acts of violence that undermined healthcare operations.”

“There is no excuse for such actions; the safety and well-being of the civilian population must be a priority,” she said.

The report documents 15 incidents affecting healthcare provision, where 12 were deliberate attacks, and the remaining incidents involved incidental harm.

UNAMA said most of these healthcare-related incidents – eight of the targeted attacks and two of the incidents with incidental harm – were attributed to the Taliban but added Afghan national security forces were responsible for three targeted attacks against healthcare.

“One instance of incidental harm to healthcare occurred in the context of clashes between Afghan national security forces and the Taliban. The most abhorrent attack, on a maternity ward in a Kabul hospital, remains unattributed,” the statement read.

The report emphasized that deliberate acts of violence against healthcare facilities, including hospitals and related personnel, are prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes.

“Perpetrating targeted attacks on healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when health resources are already stretched and of critical importance to the civilian population, is particularly reprehensible,” said Fiona Frazer, UNAMA Chief of Human Rights.

The report also stated that the harm caused by attacks on healthcare, particularly during a health pandemic, extends well beyond the direct victims of those incidents and stressed that even with ongoing conflict, the people of Afghanistan have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health under international human rights law.

The UN stated that it condemns all deliberate attacks, threats, abductions, and other intentional acts against healthcare facilities and personnel, as outlined in the report.

“In a situation in which the entire population in Afghanistan is at risk from COVID-19, there can be no greater priority than ensuring that health services can continue to operate without interference, interruption, and with sufficient resources,” the organization stated.

The UN also reiterated calls to all parties to heed the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire so all attention and resources can be directed toward fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent further harm being caused to the people of Afghanistan.

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Woman imprisoned by brother for 25 years dies just five months after rescue

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2024)

A woman who was imprisoned in a dark room for 25 years in Kabul died on Monday, just five months after being rescued by police.

The woman, Nikbakht, had been held by her brother in appalling conditions but was rescued after neighbors in district 10 tipped off the authorities about her plight in September last year.

After being rescued, she was hospitalized and treated for malnutrition and anemia.

Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said on Monday that Nikbakht spent a month in hospital after being rescued and once well enough to leave she was moved to a place of safety.

At the insistence of acting interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, Nikbakhta had regular medical check ups.

But on Sunday her health deteriorated. She passed away on Monday at about 6.30am, Zadran said.

According to him, Nikbakht was buried later the same day on Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan hill after a burial ceremony conducted by Haqqani.

In September, police arrested four of Nikbakht’s relatives, including her brother, for having forcibly imprisoned, abused and neglected her.

Police said at the time she had been subjected to years of abuse after separating from her husband. Other problems that plagued her included infertility, having a brother who was allegedly a criminal and a dispute over inheritance.

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Murderer publicly executed in Jowzjan

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2024)

The Supreme Court has announced that a man, convicted of murder, was executed in northern Jowzjan province on Monday.

The court said in a statement that Nazar Mohammad had killed Khal Mohammad with a knife.

Nazar Mohammad was publicly executed in a stadium in Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province.

This comes four days after two other murderers were executed in Ghazni province.

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UN Security Council to discuss appointment of special envoy for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2024)

The United Nations Security Council is set to meet on Afghanistan on Monday to discuss the appointment of a special envoy for Afghanistan and the results of a recent international meeting on Afghanistan in Doha.

Naseer Ahmed Faiq, Chargé d’Affaires of the Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the UN, said that in this meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will present a report about the appointment of special envoy for Afghanistan and the recent international meeting on Afghanistan in Doha.

Security Council Resolution 2721 in December last year requested that the Secretary-General brief the Security Council on the outcome of consultations within 60 days.

But the Islamic Emirate emphasizes that Afghanistan is not in crisis and with the presence of the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country, there is no need to appoint a new representative.

“As for the special representative, the position of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is very clear and there is no need to appoint a special representative for Afghanistan,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, said.

“Afghanistan is a secure country and does not suffer from any crisis and needs international cooperation, but within the framework of the cooperation that existed before. In the presence of UNAMA, all issues between the United Nations and Afghanistan will be resolved.”

“There is no need for a special representative. They should cooperate with the people of Afghanistan. They should not prevent Afghanistan’s progress in the diplomatic field and should not consider Afghanistan a country facing a crisis,” Mujahid added.

The UN Doha meeting on Afghanistan was held last week. IEA declined an invitation to attend the meeting.

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