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ICRC calls for restraint as health centers come under intense pressure

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2021)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk as fighting intensifies in and around the cities of Kunduz, Lashkargah, Kandahar and other cities in Afghanistan.

The ICRC has called on all parties to the conflict to exercise immediate restraint, protect civilians and protect critical infrastructure such as hospitals from attacks and casualties resulting from conflict in densely populated areas.

According to a statement issued by the ICRC, as of August 1, at least 4,042 people injured in the war have been treated at 15 health centers assisted by the ICRC, this indicating the severity of the recent violence.

“We are witnessing the destruction of homes, the endangerment of health workers and the sick, the damage to hospitals, as well as water and electricity infrastructure,” said Eloi Fillion, head of ICRC’s central office in Afghanistan.

“The use of explosive weapons in cities has far-reaching implications for civilians beyond their intended purpose. Mortar shells and rockets hit civilian homes without separation. Many families have no choice but to flee to find a safe place. This situation must end,” said Fillion.

Street clashes in Kunduz, Lashkargah and other cities have injured scores of civilians in recent days, while health centers are under intense pressure due to injuries and a lack of staff, the statement read.

Electricity has been cut off in several disputed cities, and water supply networks are struggling in some areas. Most families try to leave those areas, but they cannot because they do not find the vehicles or do not have the funds, the statement said.

The ICRC and its affiliate, the Afghan Red Crescent, are trying their best to evacuate the wounded and the bodies of those killed in the conflict. In July alone, the ICRC assisted with 13,000 war wounded across the country, a number that appears to be rising due to the escalation of fighting in populated areas of the country.

“Health care centers, health workers and ambulances must be safe at all costs. We continue to urge all parties involved to allow humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent Society to evacuate the wounded safely and to provide assistance to people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” Fillion said.

Meanwhile Doctors without Borders (MSF) said that a rocket exploded in the compound of MSF Boost hospital in Lashkargah city, capital of Helmand province on Monday.

The explosion was very close to our Emergency Room, and it could have been much worse, MSF tweeted.

According to MSF the Emergency-NGO hospital, next door to them was also hit by a rocket, but there were no injuries at either facility.

The organization stated: “MSF reminds all warring parties that MSF hospital is operational, saving patients’ lives & protected under international humanitarian law. Even during conflict medical facilities must be protected at all times.”

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Khulm district officially moved from Balkh to Samangan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Khulm district has been detached from Balkh province and is now part of Samangan province, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Mohsin Hashimi, visited the region and said that government had decided to incorporate Khulm district into Samangan province.

Hashimi said that he had been instructed to transfer administrative and security responsibilities for Khulm district to Samangan province in the presence of the governors of both the provinces and give assurances to the local people and security forces.

Balkh Governor Qudratullah Abu Hamza said that security responsibility for Khulm district has been handed over to Samangan authorities.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Kunduzi, the governor of Samangan, dismissed concerns that the move would affect businesses in Khulm district which has until now been part of a province that sits on vital trade routes into Central Asia

“There is no problem for investment in any province,” Kunduzi said.

Khulm district initially had been part of Samangan province, but it was moved to Balkh province during Hamid Karzai’s rule.

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Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

A Russian rocket on Tuesday successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, AP reported.

The Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 8:52 am Moscow time. About nine minutes after the launch, it placed the Iranian satellite called Khayyam into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Iran has said the satellite fitted with high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.

Tehran said no other country will have access to information it gathers and it would be used for civilian purposes only, but there have been allegations that Russia may use it for surveillance of Ukraine amid its military action there.

If it operates successfully, the satellite would give Iran the ability to monitor its archenemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East, AP reported.

Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as an “important landmark” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

Iranian state television aired footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the liftoff in Kazakhstan. Tehran said the satellite will help improve productivity in the agriculture sector, survey water resources, manage natural disasters, confront deforestation and monitor border areas.

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Karzai says it’s time the US corrects its mistakes in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that while Afghanistan was more secure today than a year ago, the economy was a “disaster” and that it was time for the US to “correct it’s mistakes”. 

In an interview with NPR this week, Karzai discussed the current situation in the country and the events of August 15 last year.

He said at the time of the collapse of the former government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), he had feared for his safety, but not because of the IEA but because of external forces. 

“The Taliban (IEA) are Afghans. They belong to this country. We know them, they know us. I felt external forces, and feared that more,” Karzai said, mentioning foreign countries and elements within Pakistan, in particular, NPR reported.

According to Karzai, he stayed and met with IEA leaders, and said that they all seemed to want the same thing: a peaceful and progressing Afghanistan. 

“In terms of [an] end to widespread fighting and conflict, we are happy — there’s more stability, there’s more security,” Karzai said. 

“But in terms of Afghanistan having a government that all Afghan people find themselves [in], we still have a way to go. In terms of the economy of the country, it’s a disaster. In terms of Afghans leaving their own country, it’s a huge disaster and a shame upon us. And this is something that the Taliban IIEA) have to address.”

Karzai told NPR the IEA acknowledges that there are problems, and that the US made “immense mistakes” in Afghanistan.

NPR reported that he is still angry about civilian casualties during the war, saying the US bombed the wrong people so often that he refuses to believe it was a mistake. 

Karzai also spoke out about the chaotic withdrawal of troops and said it had been “very dishonorable.” Families were separated amidst the chaos, and some Afghans desperate to evacuate clung to a military plane as it took off. At least two people fell to their deaths, which Karzai called a “disgrace to both of us.”

He told NPR there were things the US could do to help the Afghan people now, including unfreezing the country’s financial reserves.

“I need for the United States government to correct its mistakes in Afghanistan, to help the Afghan people stand back on their feet,” he said.

Karzai also told NPR he had met IEA leaders, all of whom had expressed a desire for better relations with the US.

But he said there were things the IEA must do first to gain trust and make progress within their own country.

“We must make sure that all the Afghan people see themselves belonging to this country and represented by the government, and that we take all the necessary steps to prove to the rest of the world that we mean well for Afghanistan,” he said.

He also said girls’ education was an issue and said he was worried the ban sets the whole country back. He warned that “a decade from now we’ll be worse than what we are now.”

NPR reported that Karzai feels there are many reasons why the IEA should take steps to prove to the world that they are trying to better the country.

“That will also make it easier for someone like me to go into the international community and say, ‘Well, we’re now on the right path towards a better future and deserve support,'” he said.

But Karzai can’t go out into the international community, even if he wanted to. He said he had asked the IEA for permission to travel abroad for several functions and events, but had always been denied, NPR reported.

As they explained it to Karzai the first time, they are honored that he is in Afghanistan and fear that things will fall apart if he doesn’t come back. He said they all knew that he would come back.

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