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Humanitarian crisis in focus as Italy hosts G20 summit on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 12, 2021)

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will host a special summit of the Group of 20 major economies on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan, as worries grow about a looming humanitarian disaster following the Islamic Emirate’s (IEA) return to power.

Since the IEA took over Afghanistan on August 15, the country – already struggling with drought and severe poverty after decades of war – has seen its economy all but collapse, raising the spectre of an exodus of refugees.

The video conference, which is due to start at 3.30pm Kabul time will focus on aid needs, concerns over security and ways of guaranteeing safe passage abroad for thousands of Western-allied Afghans still in the country.

“Providing humanitarian support is urgent for the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children, with winter arriving,” said an official with knowledge of the G20 agenda.

The U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is due to join the summit, underlining the central role given to the United Nations in tackling the crisis – in part because many countries don’t want to establish direct relations with the IEA.

Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20, has worked hard to set up the meeting in the face of highly divergent views within the disparate group on how to deal with Afghanistan after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Kabul.

“The main problem is that Western countries want to put their finger on the way the Taliban (IEA) run the country, how they treat women for example, while China and Russia on the other hand have a non-interference foreign policy,” said a diplomatic source close to the matter.

China has publicly demanded that economic sanctions on Afghanistan be lifted and that billions of dollars in Afghan international assets be unfrozen and handed back to Kabul. It was not clear if this would even be discussed on Tuesday.

While U.S. President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Europe’s G20 leaders were expected to take part in the meeting, Chinese media reported that President Xi Jinping would not participate. It was also not clear if Russian President Vladimir Putin would dial in.

Afghanistan’s neighbours Pakistan and Iran have not been invited to the virtual call, but Qatar, which has played a key role as an interlocutor between the IEA and the West, will join the discussions, a diplomatic source said.

The virtual summit comes just days after senior U.S. and IEA officials met in Qatar for their first face-to-face meeting since the IEA retook power.

Tuesday’s meeting comes less than three weeks before the formal G20 leaders summit in Rome on October 30 and 31, which is due to focus on climate change, the global economic recovery, tackling malnutrition and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UN Security Council to meet over situation in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday that will focus on the current situation in Afghanistan.

UNSC members are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and security concerns.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Bilal Karimi said the IEA welcomed meetings that are held with the aim of cooperating with the government and people of Afghanistan.

He also said that Afghans expect cooperation and that such meetings must be held in accordance with international laws and principles.

However, the IEA still does not have a designated UN representative – one year after taking control of the country.

Instead, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who assumed leadership of the Afghan mission to the UN in December last year, will address the security council members.

The IEA does not however recognize him as the legitimate envoy to the UN.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Faiq said that he would address the security council meeting and speak on behalf of Afghans.

“On behalf of Afghans, in this important meeting, like always, I would like to raise the voice of my nation,” he said.

In September last year, the IEA asked the UN to accredit Suhail Shaheen, the head of the IEA’s political office in Qatar, as the new ambassador.

But in December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in which it indefinitely delayed a decision over the rival claims to the representative seat for Afghanistan.

At the time, the IEA criticized the UN’s failure to decide on this issue, saying it was ignoring the rights of the Afghan people.

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Influential Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi dies at 96

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who was based in Qatar, died on Monday, according to a post on his official Twitter account.

The cleric was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and was chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

He was best known for his programme al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh (“Sharia and Life”), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40–60 million worldwide.

He is also known for IslamOnline, a website he helped to found in 1997 and for which he served as chief religious scholar.

Al-Qaradawi published more than 120 books, and received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars today.

Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, although he repeatedly stated that he was no longer a member. He has over the years been critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

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Rare 5,000-carat Afghan ruby unveiled in Dubai

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A rare 5,000-carat gemstone that went on private display in Dubai has been heralded as a “blessing from heaven” for the residents of the impoverished village in which it was unearthed.

The ruby, which weighs about 1 kilogram, has been hailed as “one of a kind” due to its rich purple coloring and size, the National News reported.

The ruby was discovered in the village of Hyderabad, bordering Iran and Afghanistan and its owner said he hoped the unexpected find would help bring a change of fortune for villagers without access to schools, hospitals or even electricity for some.

The uncut stone could cost at least $10 million in the market, asset manager Patrick Pilati told The National.

“It was an accidental finding from the village called Hyderabad bordering Iran and Afghanistan. There is no mining activity in the village that is under the jurisdiction of Afghanistan,” he said.

The rough stone is deep purple in color and bigger than the palm of a hand.

A certificate of authenticity …by the International Testing Laboratory Gems and Jewellery, in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India, and shown to The National, stated the rough ruby weighs 5,010 carats.

Azad Rokhsati, a gemologist, who was also present at the event, confirmed the size and weight.

“I have never seen anything like this,” he said.

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