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CENTCOM chief says Washington still mulling embassy safety plans

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said this weekend that he has provided plans to secure the US embassy in Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who is still deciding.

In an interview with Military Times, McKenzie said: “We’re in a back-and-forth process, refining them, so unfortunately right now, because of that, there’s not much more I can share with you about the development of those plans.

He went on to state that the US knows “with a high degree of certainty, that al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the version of ISIS that’s in Afghanistan — ISIS Khorasan is what we call it — they both have aspirations to attack the United States”.

“Long-standing, very public track record of wanting to attack our homeland, and the homelands of our partners as well in Europe and in other places. So, this is well established and well-documented from their own mouths.

“We believe that what has prevented these attacks from being developed, both from Afghanistan and from Syria as well over the last few years, is the pressure that’s been put on these groups.

“And so in Syria, for example, we and our SDF partners work very hard to keep that pressure on them so they don’t have — particularly ISIS — the ability to generate those attack plans because they’re busy scrambling around for their own survival,” he said.

“Sort of the same thing occurs in Afghanistan. So, what would concern me the most in the long term would be a future situation in Afghanistan where there wasn’t adequate pressure kept on these groups, because we know left unmolested that they are certainly going to rebuild, restrengthen themselves, and we have no reason to doubt they don’t mean what they say when they say, repeatedly and earnestly over the past few years, that they want to attack us in our homeland,” he said.

He highlited that the US was withdrawing from Afghanistan and that the only thing that will remain, “if we can protect it”, will be the US embassy and its diplomats.

Despite withdrawing, he again noted that Washington plans to the Afghan military from just over the horizon.

“We’re still going to support them with funding. We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.

“We will do some televised remote advising with them as we go forward. All those things, we will continue to do that. I don’t want to minimize this, because I think they’re going to be tested, but we will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now.”

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Earthquake victims in Gayan district still in need of food and shelter

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Hundreds of survivors of this week’s earthquake, who lost family members and their homes, are still in desperate need of help.

Sayed Bakhta, one of the survivors said that he has lost four family members and two others are hospitalized, adding that survivors are dealing with a lack of food and no shelter.

“We have no shelter here now, we don’t have food, all the victims are sitting outside without having shelter,” he said.

A number of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) officials who have visited Gayan district of Paktika say that almost 90 percent of residential areas have been destroyed.

“Almost 90 percent of residences are destroyed; only a few them are suitable for living, most of them are uninhabitable,” said Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health.

In the meantime, rugged roads have hampered relief efforts as Gayan victims grapple with a humanitarian crisis, but military helicopter try to deliver aid to the victims.

“According to the order of the Prime Minister, a meeting was held and according to that meeting, the ministries and donor organizations were instructed to come to the earthquake site as soon as possible and use all their facilities to save the people,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management.

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121 children among those killed in Afghanistan earthquake: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

The United Nations children’s agency said on Friday 121 of those who were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan this week were children.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said as of late Thursday night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured.

The toll included 121 deaths and 67 injuries among the children, according to the official.

He said that Bermal district in Paktika province has the highest number of casualties and that several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” Ayoya said.

“UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component,” Ayoya said.
“UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.”

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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