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Famine may have been averted, but Afghan economic crisis deepens: UN envoy

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(Last Updated On: March 3, 2022)

Humanitarian agencies may have distributed enough aid in Afghanistan to avert famine and large-scale starvation, but the country’s economic collapse is “approaching a point of irreversibility,” the UN envoy to Kabul said on Wednesday.

UN Special Representative Deborah Lyons told the UN Security Council that it is “most urgent” to resolve the root problems of the economic crisis, but doing so will require cooperating on all issues with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) who seized power in August, Reuters reported.

“We do not believe that we can truly assist the Afghan people without working with the defacto authorities,” Lyons said in urging the council to approve a new mandate for her mission.

The IEA authorities lack international recognition six months after taking control of Kabul as the last US-led international troops departed, ending 20 years of war, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters donors cut financial aid constituting more than 70% of government expenditures and about $9 billion in Afghan central bank assets were frozen. Many of IEA’s leaders remain under US and UN sanctions.

The moves accelerated an economic collapse, fueling a cash shortage, joblessness and hunger, prompting UN warnings that more than half of the 39 million people faced starvation, Reuters reported.

Lyons told the council that UN agencies and their partners have supplied aid to nearly 20 million Afghans across the country.

“We believe, as the winter season comes to an end, that we have perhaps averted our worst fears of famine and widespread starvation,” she said.

Lyons, however, said that urgent steps must be taken to address the liquidity crisis, restrictions on international payments and constraints on the central bank.

“Six months of indecision, marked by continued sanctions albeit with some relief, and unstructured political engagement, are eroding the vital social and economic coping systems and pushing the population into greater uncertainty,” she said.

“What we have done has been only to buy a little time.”

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Pakistan, Russia to ‘assess’ IEA’s performance

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

Pakistan and Russia would review progress of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in terms of fulfilling its commitments made to the international community on forming an inclusive government, and to deny terrorist groups a haven to operate from its soil, official sources told Pakistani media on Sunday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is in Moscow, is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, Sargey Lavrov on Monday and one of the key issues on their agenda is Afghanistan, The Tribune reported.

This is Zardari’s first visit to Moscow as the foreign minister and comes amid rising concerns on the part of Pakistan over the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group, which Islamabad says is being provided sanctuary in Afghanistan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a tweet that the two ministers would discuss the fight against terrorism and a number of regional topics, including the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.

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OIC calls on IEA to allow females to get an education

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities to strive towards reopening schools and universities for girls and enable them to enroll in all levels of education.

In a series of tweets the OIC General Secretariat expressed its disappointment over the decision announced on Saturday by the IEA’s ministry of higher education, banning female students from taking university entrance exams this year in all public and private universities across the country.

“This latest decree further tightens the sweeping restrictions proclaimed by the Kabul de facto authorities on girls’ and women’s access to education and public work,” OIC tweeted.

The ban comes shortly after the OIC Executive Committee convened on 11 January 2023 an Extraordinary Meeting on the “Recent Developments and the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan”.

The Final Communique of the meeting called on the IEA to “…strive towards reopening schools and universities for girls and enable them to enroll in all levels of education and all specializations required by the Afghan people.”

The organization urged IEA to reconsider this latest decision and earlier edicts especially for its far-reaching social and economic ramifications.

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US special envoy to hold talks with foreign partners and Afghan diaspora

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West is this week visiting Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland for talks with “partners, Afghans, and humanitarian aid organizations about the shared interests in Afghanistan”, the US State Department said Sunday.

According to the statement, Thomas West’s week-long (January 29 – February 4) visit to Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland is aimed at consulting with partners and Afghan diasporas on the many challenges the people of Afghanistan, women, and girls in particular are currently facing.

“I will travel to Pakistan, Germany, and Switzerland Jan 29-Feb 4 to consult with partners, Afghans, and humanitarian relief organizations regarding extraordinary challenges we face in supporting the Afghan people,” West tweeted.

Foreign governments and international aid organizations have repeatedly called on the Islamic Emirate authorities to reverse the decision and allow Afghan women and girls to attend education, work, sports, and public life, however, nothing has changed for the better so far.

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