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Closure of government offices and ministries hampers service delivery



(Last Updated On: August 23, 2021)

Most government departments and ministries in Kabul remain closed a week after the Taliban’s takeover of the capital, despite an improved security situation and repeated calls by the Taliban for government employees to return to work.

Kabul residents have now also started calling for government offices to reopen.

One resident, Mohammad Reza Nawoandish, said: “I have been going to the Ministry of Higher Education for a few days to get a document, but there is no one to do the work for us and submit our documents to us.”

“The ministries are closed and the people are facing problems, now the (security) situation is also good and we want the ministries to be opened so the people can solve their problems,” said Shir Ali, another resident.

“The ministries must be opened, the people are in trouble, although the security has improved, but the provision of services has been closed and this problem must be solved,” said Hussain Saddiqi, another resident.

The Taliban, meanwhile, say the opening up of Afghan ministries and institutions depends on staff returning to work. They assured government workers that they have no need to be afraid.

“The Islamic Emirate has announced that everyone should come to work and there is no obstacle but the employees are not willing to work, and the Emirate is trying to get the ministries to work as soon as possible, and we ask the employees to return to their jobs without any fear,” said Mawolavi Bilal Nazari, a Taliban member.

Haji Mohammad Idris has meanwhile been appointed as acting director of the Central Bank in a bid to resolve the issue of banks being closed, said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

On the other hand, experts have said the Taliban needs to announce the formation of a government as soon as possible.

“The Taliban must decide on governance as soon as possible so that the people know their fate and the Afghan administration must be activated and the people must be able to go about their daily lives; the Taliban are in a situation where they have to prove to the people that they have programs for the people,” said Hekmatullah Adalatyar, an international affairs analyst.

Following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban last Sunday, most ministries except for the Ministry of Health and Urban Traffic have remained closed.

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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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