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Kidnapped Balkh child turns 10 while still being held hostage

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(Last Updated On: April 8, 2021)

Abdul Raouf, the Balkh boy kidnapped six months ago, celebrated his tenth birthday Thursday – a day that saw his emotional parents plead with government to help get their boy back.

The child’s mother said it was extremely difficult for her to not be with her son on his special day – especially as they have celebrated every birthday of his until now.

“Today is Abdul Raouf’s birthday, but he is not with us, and it is very difficult for us today, and if he was with us, we would celebrate his birthday today,” said his mother Zuhra.

The boy’s parents are also devastated about government not having been able to secure the release of their child, six months after he was kidnapped.

In a bid to push government to do more to release the child, the family has carried out a sit-in protest, in tents, outside the Balkh governor’s office for the past five months.

Mohammad Nabi, Abdul Raouf’s father, said that government officials had done nothing to help them except make promises.

“These people (government officials) have a harder heart than a stone and they do not care about anyone, and if they cared about someone, they would have found a clue [to his whereabouts] in six months,” said his father Mohammad Rafi.

One of the protesters said the kidnappers want money in exchange for Abdul Raouf, and every few days the family receives threatening messages.

“Nowadays the kidnappers are demanding one million and two hundred thousand dollars ($1.2 million),” said Kamal, one of the protesters.

Security officials meanwhile have stated they carried out numerous operations in the search for the child and that they have arrested suspects but in recent weeks, no new information has been shared with the media.

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Afghanistan announces aid for quake-hit Turkey and Syria

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Tuesday announced AFN 15 million (approx. $166,000 USD) in humanitarian aid for people affected by recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Of the total, AFN 10 million (approx. $111,000) will be for Turkey, and AFN 5 million (approx. $55,000) will be for Syria.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that IEA stands in solidarity with its brothers and sisters in this time of hardship.

It added that the aid is on the basis of “shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood.”

The statement also said that IEA emergency response and health teams stand ready to participate in rescue operations to assist the affected people if called upon.

The ministry instructed its diplomatic mission in Turkey to not spare any efforts in assisting the victims, and urged Turkey-based Afghan citizens to help with the relief efforts.

Thousands have been killed in Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency across 10 provinces worst affected by the earthquakes.

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28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that Afghanistan needs immediate humanitarian aid.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi on Monday said that Afghanistan is experiencing the worst period over the past two decades.

Abdi said on Twitter that humanitarian needs are felt now more than ever before in Afghanistan, and has warned that disruptions of aid will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country, already plagued with critical challenges.

“Some 28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid, which needs the immediate attention of the international community, partners, and Taliban’s caretaker government,” Abdi said.

During his visit with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore reiterated that the organization is committed to carrying on its much-needed operations in the areas of education, healthcare, and children’s vaccinations in Afghanistan.

Previously, UNICEF announced that Afghanistan is among the eight most hunger-hit countries in the world.

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Iran’s top security official leaves for Russia to attend Afghanistan meeting

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani has left the country for Russia to attend a summit that will focus on the political, economic and security situation in Afghanistan.

Shamkhani will join top security officials from Central Asian countries, Pakistan, India and China for a meeting planned for Wednesday in the Russian capital Moscow as part of the fifth round of the multilateral talks on Afghanistan.

The previous edition of the conference had been held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in May 2022.

Indian capital of New Delhi had hosted the third round of the initiative in 2021 two years after it was launched in Tehran.

Shamkhani is also scheduled to hold meetings with his counterparts from other countries, including Russia’s top security official.

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