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Delays continue to hamper the start of intra-Afghan negotiations 

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(Last Updated On: September 7, 2020)

After more than a month of speculation around the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, talks have still not started as delays continue to dominate the process. 

For months the Afghan nation has waited for negotiations to get underway but these were initially delayed by challenges around the prisoner release process. 

Last week President Ashraf Ghani released the final batch of ‘hardcore’ Taliban prisoners, except for six, raising hopes that talks would start immediately. 

On Saturday, a Taliban delegation that had been in Pakistan for talks returned to Doha and later that day announced the names of their negotiating team members. 

This led to further speculation that talks could start Monday – especially as the United States’ chief peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also reportedly arrived in Doha over the weekend. 

But anticipated talks did not start on Monday as hoped for and the Kabul team has not yet left   Afghanistan.

 One senior government official told Reuters on Monday that the negotiating team may fly on Tuesday.

According to him, the cause of the delay was partly due to the Taliban and officials in Doha sorting out final logistical questions over the opening ceremony, including who should be given time to speak and how flags should be arranged.

These matters carry symbolic weight for the two sides, each of whom has questioned each other’s legitimacy to present themselves as governing powers, Reuters reported.

Another issue hampering the start to talks was that plans to move the six prisoners to Qatar have yet to be finalized. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that there were no “major issues” causing the delay, adding that they were waiting for the six prisoners to be released, but technical teams from both sides were working on the issue, Reuters reported. 

On Monday afternoon, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said government was ready to start talks. 

In a post on Twitter, he said: “The Afghan government delegation is ready for peace talks and the technical problems in front of these talks in Qatar have been resolved.” 

Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, meanwhile held a number of high-profile meetings with stakeholders on the issue of peace on Monday. 

During the course of the day, he met with UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons to discuss the upcoming talks as well as the Charge d’affaires for the EU in Afghanistan Arnout Pauwels. 

In another meeting, Monday Abdullah discussed peace efforts with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) envoy Huseyin Avni Botsali. 

But despite all the discussions around peace talks – no firm date has yet been given as to when talks would start.

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Polio vaccination campaign rolls out in western Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

More than one million Afghan children are expected to be vaccinated over the next few days in the latest polio vaccination campaign that was launched in western Afghanistan on Sunday.

Officials said the campaign will run for four days and be conducted across four provinces in the western region.

Waheed Rahmani, head of the vaccination campaign, said that 1.1 million children under the age of five are expected to receive the polio drops, including 720,000 in Herat province.

He said that so far there are no obstacles in the way of rolling out the campaign.

Volunteers said that they hope to reach all the children who need to be vaccinated.

“I along with my team will work honestly to make Afghanistan free from polio virus,” said Fina Nezami, a volunteer.

“I hope that Afghanistan becomes polio-free and we are happy to go door to door for vaccinations,” said Yagana Nabizada, another volunteer.

Local health officials have assured the public that all areas will be covered by the campaign.

“We have not forgotten areas, and while planning vaccination programs, all the areas are reviewed and if any area is left out, it will be immediately covered,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, provincial deputy health director.

Around 728,000 children received polio drops in the previous campaign in Herat. Around 5,000 volunteers are involved in the current campaign in Herat.

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China pledges over $7 million in aid for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

China’s ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and said his country would provide emergency aid worth 50 million Yuan ($7.5 million) for victims of last week’s earthquake. 

At a meeting on Saturday in Kabul, Wang also said that MCC Mes Aynak copper mining contractor would provide $200,000 in aid. 

Wang said on Twitter: “Chinese enterprises will definitely fulfill their social responsibilities. The friendship between 2 countries and peoples will be further strengthened.”

Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government and people for the timely assistance and assured Wang that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities would distribute the aid promptly, fairly and transparently, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported. 

Aid provided by China will include tents, sheets, fold up beds, and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people. The first batch of aid is scheduled to arrive by charter flight on Monday, Bakhtar reported.

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Thousands of earthquake victims in need of water and food, at risk of disease

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Thousands affected by a deadly earthquake in eastern Afghanistan are in need of clean water and food and are at risk of disease, an Afghan Health Ministry official said on Sunday days after a United Nations agency warned of a cholera outbreak in the region.

At least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed in last Wednesday’s earthquake, after which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that cholera outbreaks in the aftermath are of particular and serious concern.

“The people are extremely needy for food and clean water,” Afghanistan Health Ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman told Reuters, adding that officials had managed medicines for now but handling those who had lost their homes would be a challenge.

“We ask the international community, humanitarian organizations to help us for food and medicine, the survivor might catch diseases because they don’t have proper houses and shelters for living,” he said.

The UN and several countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

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