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EU launches humanitarian projects in Afghanistan worth over $300 million

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2022)

In a bid to address the major humanitarian crisis Afghanistan is facing, the European Union has launched projects worth €268.3 million ($304 million) that focusses on maintaining education, sustaining livelihoods, and protecting public health.

According to a statement issued by the UN, the funding is being channelled through United Nations agencies working in Afghanistan and benefits the Afghan population directly.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “I am pleased that we are addressing basic human needs and supporting livelihoods under the clear parameters set out by the Foreign Affairs Council.

“The projects focus on health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, and education, in particular for women and girls. We are also supporting income generating activities, food security and local markets.

“We have reacted quickly to alleviate the suffering of the population and preserve a future for the Afghan people, especially women and youth,” said Urpilainen.

Seven EU projects, worth a total of €186 million, support health, education and livelihoods for Afghans and will be implemented through United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

A €50 million project implemented by UNICEF will provide around 194,000 public teachers nationwide with emergency cash support of around €90 per month for two months during the harsh winter time, the statement read.

Another €11 million project will ensure the provision of food at schools and to take home for boys and girls in primary school. For girls in secondary level, the EU will also support cash transfers for their households conditional on girls’ school attendance.

A €10 million project will improve testing, surveillance and hospital facilities to deal with COVID-19. This will be done in conjunction with the World Health Organization while a €25 million project will mitigate the health and nutrition effects of COVID-19 on women and children and will be done through UNICEF.

In addition to this, a €25 million project, implemented by UNICEF and the WHO, will allow for polio vaccine procurement and other measures and working with the WFP, the EU will increase food security, of €50 million, for around 450,000 persons.

Also, working with UNDP, a €15 million project will allow around 23,000 entrepreneurs, mainly women, to receive technical and/or financial support to develop and expand their businesses.

According to the statement, the EU has launched another five projects for a total of €79 million to address forced displacement and migration in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia.

The Afghan Children on the Move project will get €15 million; support to Afghan refugees and displaced people in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan will total €34 million; and a project for displaced Afghans in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan will total €15 million.

Support will also be given to vulnerable Afghans and host communities in Iran through a project, with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), totalling €14 million.

A €1 million project to enhance the capacities of Surkhandarya region in Uzbekistan to educate and train Afghan citizens will also be carried out and the EU will also increase its support to Afghan Human Rights Defenders at risk and Civil Society Organisations with two projects worth €3.3 million.

According to the statement, more projects in all these sectors are due to be launched in the coming months.

The new projects launched are a key milestone as part of the overall €1 billion EU support package announced by President Ursula von der Leyen in October last year.

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India calls for enhancing Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism capability

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

A top Indian official on Friday called for enhancing the capability of Afghanistan to counter terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval made the remarks while addressing the 4th Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.

The two-day meeting was attended by the national security advisers and secretaries of security councils of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.

The officials highlighted the need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating risks from terrorism emanating from the region.

“There is a need for all present at the Dialogue to enhance capability of Afghanistan to counter terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security,” Doval said.

He said the foremost priority should be the right to life and a dignified living as well as protection of human rights of all the people in Afghanistan.

“Assistance should be accessible to all, respect for all obligations under international humanitarian law should be ensured,” he added.

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the event, Doval expressed concern over the massive volume of American weapons left in Afghanistan, saying part of it has fallen into the hands of terrorist groups and it poses threats to Afghanistan’s neighbors.

He said that the terrorists are operating freely in Afghanistan, stressing the need for the formation of an inclusive government in the country.

For his part, Shamkhani said that the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of different ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan is a prerequisite for the creation of lasting stability in Afghanistan.

The Security Dialogue on Afghanistan is aimed at firming up a common approach for practical cooperation in confronting increasing threats of terrorism, radicalization and drug trafficking.

Enamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said that overall security prevails in Afghanistan. He called on the neighboring and regional countries to cooperate with the Afghan government to further improve security situation, saying it would benefit the region as well.

“IEA is committed to not allow any evil circle to disrupt security of neighboring and regional countries by using Afghanistan soil,” Samangani said.

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IEA reacts to UNSC remarks, says concerns about women’s rights ‘unfounded’

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), has reacted to remarks by the UN Security Council that women’s rights are being violated and said in a statement the comments were “unfounded”.

The statement, issued on Friday also welcomed the UNSC’s decision to revive banking and financial systems and humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. The IEA once again called on the US to unconditionally release Afghanistan’s assets and lift all economic sanctions.

“Since the people of Afghanistan are predominantly Muslim, the Afghan government considers the observance of Islamic Hijab to be in line with the religious and cultural practices of society and aspirations of majority of Afghan women, and stresses that nothing has been imposed on the Afghan people that runs counter to the religious and cultural beliefs of the Islamic society,” the statement read.

“Whilst the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan respects freedom of religion of people and believes in resolving problems through dialogue, it also expects world countries to discern objective realities of Afghan society, show respect towards the religious and cultural values of the Afghan people and not pass verdicts based on malicious and antagonist reporting of some media outlets or propaganda by opposition to the Islamic Emirate.”

The statement comes after Tuesday’s request by the UNSC for the IEA to “swiftly reverse” policies and practices that are restricting the human rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.

The 15-member council expressed “deep concern regarding the increasing erosion of respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban (IEA).”

This came after the IEA ordered women to cover their faces in public. They also asked television broadcasters to ensure that female presenters on local stations cover their faces when on air.

“The members of the Security Council called on the Taliban (IEA) to swiftly reverse the policies and practices which are currently restricting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls,” read a Security Council statement.

The Security Council also “reiterated their call on the Taliban (IEA) to adhere to their commitments to reopen schools for all female students without further delay.”

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United Nations Chief condemns recent attacks in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned this week’s attacks in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, in Balkh province, that left at least 16 people dead and dozens wounded.

In a statement issued on Friday, Guterres expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. He also reiterated that civilians are not targets.

“I condemn the recent attacks in Afghanistan, which claimed many civilian lives, including members of the Hazara Shia community,” Guterres tweeted.

He also said: “I repeat; Attacks against civilians are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law. Civilians are not a target.”

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General says attacks on civilians and public places, including mosques, are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Guterres also reiterated his call on all parties to consider the protection of civilians and to ensure the protection of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as their right to freedom of religion and expression.

This comes after Wednesday’s explosions in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in which 16 people were killed and 37 others wounded.

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