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NATO foreign ministers to discuss lessons learned in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that foreign ministers will next week discuss the organization’s engagement in Afghanistan and “identify the right lessons for future crisis management operations”.

Outlining the priorities to be discussed at the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Riga, Latvia, from Tuesday, Stoltenberg said: “Following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and armed forces in Afghanistan in August, I launched a comprehensive assessment of our engagement.”

He said NATO went into Afghanistan “to prevent terrorists from using the country again to attack us.

“And since 9/11, there has been no terrorist attack against our countries from Afghanistan.

“But we must recognize that over the years, the international community set a level of ambition that went well beyond the original aim of fighting terrorism.

“And on that, we were not able to deliver. Despite our sacrifice and considerable investment,” he said adding that he expects ministers to discuss this and to “identify the right lessons for our future crisis management operations”.

Stoltenberg also noted that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan “is dire, dire, and very difficult and this is of course of great concern for all of us. And winter is coming. And we know that many people are at risk of suffering and having a very difficult time throughout the winter.”

He said he welcomed moves by NATO Allies to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which he said was “extremely important and something which demonstrates the will, and the commitment, of NATO Allies to continue to support the people of Afghanistan.”

He also touched on Pakistan and said: “NATO has had regular contacts with Pakistan for many, many years. Of course, not least discussing the situation in Afghanistan. We have political contacts, we have regular military contacts and dialogue and I think this is important that this continues because there are still many challenges in the region, especially related to the future of Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg also said the ministers will address the continuing build-up of Russian forces in and around Ukraine, saying: “It raises tensions and it risks miscalculation. Russia must show transparency, reduce tensions and de-escalate. NATO’s approach to Russia remains unchanged. We keep our defense and deterrence strong while remaining open for dialogue.”

NATO Foreign Ministers will also address the migrant “situation on the border with Belarus and the Lukashenko regime’s exploitation of vulnerable people”.

Other issues that will be discussed include NATO’s next Strategic Concept. He said: “It needs to take account of new realities, including Russia’s aggressive actions, a more assertive China, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the security impact of climate change. It will drive our continued adaptation in a more competitive world.”

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Herat youths call on IEA to create job opportunities

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

The young generation of Herat province has raised concerns about the high rate of unemployment in the province and said no initiatives have been taken over the past 20 years to create job opportunities for them.

According to them, hundreds of experienced and educated people have lost their jobs over the past year and that in this time the Department of Information and Culture has only managed to organize some training programs aimed at improving the capacity of young people.

“What we were hoping for was to change the system and take serious action for the youth, but as you can see, men and women are unemployed, girls’ schools are closed,” said Fatima Rezai, a resident of Herat.

“Unfortunately, the problems of the youth are economic problems and the current situation is known to everyone, there is no work and the projects have stopped, therefore, there is a need to restart these projects,” said another resident.

However, Herat’s Department of Information and Culture said that during the last year, efforts have been made to retain the youth who worked for the previous government, and that many of them are still employed within the department.

“We promise all our people, especially our youth, that in various sectors where there are gaps, Inshallah the Islamic Emirate will take action to solve it as soon as possible,” said Naimulhaq Haqqani, director of Herat’s Information and Culture department.

Hussain Naemi, head of youth affairs at the department said: “So far, we have been able to organize training classes for 1,000 young people, and in the field of youth capacity building, we have also done various technical and web workshops, English and computer classes.”

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10 million students being educated at 19,000 facilities: Education Ministry

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

Education ministry officials said Tuesday that currently, there are 19,000 educational institutions in the country with an enrollment of about 10 million students.

Speaking at the formal accountability session in Kabul, the acting deputy Minister of Education said: “There are currently 19,000 public and private educational institutions with about 10 million students in the country, and a total of 242,000 teachers, including 92,000 female teachers, engaged in teaching in these institutions.”

According to officials, over the past year, 142,000 certificates have been distributed to Grade 12 graduates and graduates from madrassas.

In order to eliminate ambiguity and remove ghost employees, the exact number of teachers, students and schools have been tallied over the past year, officials said.

According to them, currently, 10,147,024 students, 6,243,809 male students and 3,903,215 female students, are enrolled at education facilities.

Assessments have also been carried out of educational documents of Grade 12 and 14 students. So far, about 400,000 students have registered for the exam to become teachers.

In addition to this, the ministry has undergone a change in the organizational structure, officials said. According to them, four deputies have been appointed while 67 directorates have been established and 290,000 posts created.

Over the past year, about 16,000 vacant posts have been filled by qualified staff and a further 10,000 posts will be made available soon.

With the help of UNICEF, 37 million textbooks have been printed and distributed in the past year. Officials also said that with UNHCR’s help, 20,000 tents will be provided and used as make-shift schools.

Abdul Khaleq Sadiq, head of the quality assurance department of the Ministry of Education also addressed the event and said the plan around reopening girls’ schools will be completed soon.

“The reopening of schools is an issue that all officials of the Ministry of Education are committed to, but this closure is a delay and the school reopening plan will be completed.”

However, members of the public have said the closure of girls schools is a disaster and that Afghanistan has long been a “victim of ignorance and illiteracy”. Members of the public have said the Islamic Emirate should provide education for men and women across all sectors, whether religious sciences or contemporary sciences.

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Afghan refugees in UK told to look for private accommodation

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

Afghan refugees who sought asylum in the UK after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over Afghanistan a year ago have been told to look for private accommodation as the government-funded accommodation scheme winds down.

In a letter sent to the Afghan refugees, the Home Office warned that not every council would accept their request for a place on the social housing list and has told them to use estate agent websites in the private sector, Anadolu News Agency reported.

“The use of hotels to house those resettling from Afghanistan is a temporary solution, and we continue to work with over 350 local authorities to move Afghan families from hotels to permanent accommodation as quickly as possible,” a statement from the Home Office said.

“To support the resettlement of Afghan families, local authorities are given £20,520 ($24,809) per person over a three-year period. They have the flexibility to use this funding to contribute towards renting accommodation, including deposits, letting fees and furnishing,” it added.

Although the government is still accommodating up to 9,500 Afghan refugees in hotels, with 7,000 rehoused, the Home Office is planning to wind down the use of hotels to house refugees, Anadolu reported.

Rights groups and charities, however, have voiced concerns over the lack of funding, guidance and assistance offered to the refugees and fear that many families will fall into homelessness as a result.

Afghan families and individuals, many of whom have only been in the UK for a year, will struggle to find accommodation. Due to language barriers which will prevent them from negotiating their rental agreements and the lack of necessary documentation, many fear that these families will fall through the system.

“Afghan families couldn’t have imagined that one year after arriving they’d still be warehoused in unsuitable accommodation, without space, privacy and stability. There is also a serious risk of homelessness for these families if suitable accommodation is not offered under the current Home Office plans,” said Eva Tabbasam, the director of Gender Action for Peace and Security.

“The government has had a year to sort things out – instead, it’s getting worse. If suitable accommodation was readily available for the 9,500 people still in hotels, families would already have been moved into it. We don’t yet know what kind of move on accommodation families will be offered,” she added.

The government’s plans to rehouse Afghan refugees include sending them to different parts of the country. However, as the majority are based in London and with children enrolled into school and family members at work, the scheme may prove difficult, Anadolu reported. .

Furthermore, councils have voiced concern over the lack of housing options for Afghan families with Claire Holland, London Councils’ executive member for communities, saying “boroughs are very concerned by the lack of alternative housing options for these families – a particular challenge in the capital due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing here.”

UK council housing lists are notoriously long with many having to wait up to a year to find a house fit for a large family. Additionally, although Afghan families have the right to rent, many landlords are reluctant to sign agreements with them due to a lack of necessary and sufficient documentation.

The plan to rehouse Afghan refugees in private accommodation comes on the one-year anniversary of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) rule.

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