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General Miller hands over command of Afghanistan to CENTCOM chief

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2021)

US Forces commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller officially handed over command of US and NATO troops in the country to the commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Marine General Frank McKenzie, at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday.

Addressing the ceremony, Miller stated that the US will continue to support the government and the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) after the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

“It is important that the military sides set the conditions for peaceful and political settlement in Afghanistan. We can all see the violence is taking place across the country but we know with that violence that would be very difficult to achieve is a political settlement,” Miller said.

“What I tell the Taliban is they are responsible too. The violence that is going on is against the will of the Afghan people of Afghanistan and it needs to stop,” he added.

McKenzie, who officially took authority of US forces in Afghanistan, stated that the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan does not mean a cutting of ties, indeed, it is the beginning of a new chapter in the two country’s relations.

“We retain a protective posture that enable us to do the following things; first of all maintaining an ongoing diplomatic presence; second, support the Afghan security forces, people and government; and finally, prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for the terrorism that threatens the US homeland and the homelands of our friends and neighbors,” McKenzie said.

Meanwhile, NSA Hamdullah Mohib said that the government is trying to fill the security vacuum that has been created as a result of the withdrawal of international forces from the country.

“The vacuum was created as a result of the retrograde but we are trying to fill that gap; the strength of ANDSF is able to deal with some of the issues immediately; we have been working on how do we cover those gaps that exists,” Mohib said.

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Afghanistan leads world in negative experiences

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Afghanistan in 2021 displaced Iraq from the top spot on the Negative Experience Index that the latter had occupied for the two previous years, Gallup said in a survey report released Tuesday.

According to the report, worry, stress and sadness soared to record levels in Afghanistan in 2021: 80% of Afghans were worried, 74% were stressed and 61% felt sadness much of the day.

No other population in Gallup’s 16 year trend has ever reported feeling this much worry, the reported noted.

Gallup said Afghans’ lives were already in a tailspin before the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) returned to power in 2021. Most Afghans were struggling to afford food and shelter, few felt safe, and they saw their lives getting worse with every passing year, it said.

Gallup surveys conducted in August and September — as the U.S. withdrew and IEA took control — reveal Afghans were losing the remaining joy that they had, the report said.

Afghanistan’s score of 59 on the Negative Experience Index was the highest score on record for the country and the highest score in the world in 2021. However, Afghanistan falls short of having the highest score on record for any country: The Central African Republic posted a score of 61 in 2017.

Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman of IEA, rejected the report as “propaganda.”

“The reality is that after IEA’s takeover most citizens are feeling safe and have a sense of ownership and they are happy,” Karimi said on Twitter.

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UN appeals for $110 million to help Afghan earthquake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

The United Nations on Monday launched an emergency appeal for $110 million to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 360,000 Afghans who were affected by last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

The funding is required over the next three months.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said that the new appeal is part of this year’s Humanitarian Response plan, which calls for $4.4 billion, but is massively underfunded at just over one third.

“We and our partners are borrowing supplies, personnel, and resources from other humanitarian programmes,” UNOCHA said in a statement.

Wednesday’s earthquake killed over a thousand people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in Paktika and Khost provinces.

“I’m appealing to the world — please help. We need money. We need funding. We need support to resolve this tragedy,” Ramiz Alakbarov, UN resident relief coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a video message while visiting an area in Paktika province.

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Chinese FM talks with Muttaqi, reaffirms support for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi on Monday in a phone conversation and reaffirmed support for the victims of last week’s devastating earthquake.

Wang expressed condolences over the tragedy and said China stands ready to provide more timely assistance to Afghanistan based on its needs and expects the country to stay united to overcome the disaster and rebuild homes as soon as possible, according to China’s foreign ministry.

He said various forces in China, from the central and local governments to social organizations and enterprises, have worked overtime to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and help the Afghan people.

According to Wang, the first batch of tents, blankets and other supplies are being delivered by chartered planes, and cash and other relief supplies will follow as soon as possible.

For his part, Muttaqi thanked the Chinese foreign minister and said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has delivered timely food and medical assistance to quake victims. He said that now there is urgent need for shelter, according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry.

The statement said that the sides also discussed political relations. Wang said he was opposed to sanctions against Afghanistan and added that the Afghan embassy in Beijing is operating well and is playing a good role in bilateral relations.

Wang said that China will soon start issuing visas to Afghan traders and will facilitate the return of Afghan students to China.

He also said that the air link between Afghanistan and China will be operational soon.

Muttaqi welcomed China’s ‘positive policy’ on Afghanistan and expressed hope it would boost trade between the two countries, especially on dried fruits.

A magnitude-6.1 earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday, leaving over a thousand people dead and 3,000 homes destroyed.

The Chinese government has decided to provide about $7.5 million worth of humanitarian aid to the victims.

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