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Ghani suggests US troops might not be withdrawn by May as planned



(Last Updated On: January 30, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani implied on Friday that he expects the Biden administration to keep US troops in Afghanistan for longer than anticipated under the US-Taliban deal, signed by the Trump administration, saying the Taliban aren’t meeting their obligations to reduce violence.

This comes after a dramatic surge in violence since the signing of the deal in Doha in February last year.

On Thursday Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Taliban’s refusal to reduce the violence is raising questions over whether the 2,500 US troops remaining will leave by May as planned.

In an interview on Friday with the Aspen Institute, Ghani said such statements send “a signal to the Taliban that the US is here to secure peace and not to retreat and leave the field open.”

Ghani said during the virtual event that the new Biden administration’s review of the peace deal should take weeks, not months, which is a sign of a “very predictable” new phase in the US-Afghanistan relationship.

Ghani said he hopes to speak soon with President Joe Biden and that the US is planning to send a team to Kabul to discuss how to “energize the peace talks.”

He also said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy who brokered the agreement with the Taliban will now be reporting to a “very organized decision-making process,” this being in reference to the new Biden administration.

He also stated that “NATO will play a bridging role” as the US draws down, but “NATO without US enablers cannot continue its mission.”

On the high level of violence in the country, he said Afghanistan must hold the Taliban responsible for the surge in killings.

“If the Taliban realize they can prevail through violence they will not let go,” he said adding “we must hold the Taliban responsible for this environment of violence…This is not the way to get attention. It is the way to get condemnation for truly inhuman violence.”On the issue of a possible interim government, Ghani was adamant that this was not a good idea.

He pointed out that Afghanistan has had interim governments in the past that have been unsuccessful.

“We’ve had interim governments. They have led to bloodshed,” he said adding that such a move would be detrimental to Afghanistan.

“The citizens of Afghanistan must be empowered…Where would I get the authority to dissolve the Republic? I have sworn to uphold the constitution,” he said.

Ghani also pointed out that the ethos of peace talks has not been passed down to the Taliban’s fighters on the ground.

“Peace has not been socialized to the Taliban commanders or rank and file,” he said implying that just recently the group’s leaders were seen visiting wounded fighters in a hospital in Pakistan and giving them words of encouragement.

Encouraged by the Biden administration’s approach to Afghanistan, Ghani said Washington is working with the government, and “the focus is on ending 40 years of violence.”

“The process has begun and we couldn’t be more pleased with the early focus, systematic attention, and a dialogue between two partners,” he said.

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Earthquake victims in Gayan district still in need of food and shelter



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Hundreds of survivors of this week’s earthquake, who lost family members and their homes, are still in desperate need of help.

Sayed Bakhta, one of the survivors said that he has lost four family members and two others are hospitalized, adding that survivors are dealing with a lack of food and no shelter.

“We have no shelter here now, we don’t have food, all the victims are sitting outside without having shelter,” he said.

A number of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) officials who have visited Gayan district of Paktika say that almost 90 percent of residential areas have been destroyed.

“Almost 90 percent of residences are destroyed; only a few them are suitable for living, most of them are uninhabitable,” said Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health.

In the meantime, rugged roads have hampered relief efforts as Gayan victims grapple with a humanitarian crisis, but military helicopter try to deliver aid to the victims.

“According to the order of the Prime Minister, a meeting was held and according to that meeting, the ministries and donor organizations were instructed to come to the earthquake site as soon as possible and use all their facilities to save the people,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management.

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121 children among those killed in Afghanistan earthquake: UNICEF



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

The United Nations children’s agency said on Friday 121 of those who were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan this week were children.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said as of late Thursday night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured.

The toll included 121 deaths and 67 injuries among the children, according to the official.

He said that Bermal district in Paktika province has the highest number of casualties and that several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” Ayoya said.

“UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component,” Ayoya said.
“UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.”

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief



(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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