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Pakistan’s NSA to visit Kabul this week

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf will lead a high-level inter-ministerial delegation to Kabul on Tuesday for a two-day trip for talks on bilateral matters and a focus on Islamabad’s efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis in the country.

“Yusuf is steering the Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) to channel Pakistan’s humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan in a manner that helps the Afghan interim authorities in combatting their key challenges while adhering to the requirements of the UN and international sanctions,” Pakistan’s Dawn news reported.

Officials said the purpose of the visit is to ascertain Afghanistan’s “humanitarian, economic and development needs”.

Dawn news reported the “main sectors of Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan include health, higher education, provision of humanitarian assistance, and enhancement of trade/business contacts”.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government is yet to confirm the visit.

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Taiwan announces $1 million for Afghan earthquake relief efforts

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Taiwan will donate $1 million to Afghan earthquake relief efforts in response to a call from the United Nations and others for humanitarian assistance, the government said late on Thursday.

Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement that the government would donate “based on the spirit of humanitarian care for disaster relief regardless of national borders (and) responding to the United Nations and other humanitarian calls,” Reuters reported.

However Taiwan will not send search and rescue teams after consulting with other countries and considering the difficulty of transportation, office spokesman Xavier Chang added.

Taiwan also lies in a quake-prone zone and regularly sends rescue teams to other disaster areas around the world.

China meanwhile has said it stands ready to provide Afghanistan aid, and on Friday its foreign ministry said that it is “stepping up efforts” to collect cash, tents, bed quilts and other humanitarian aid to deliver to Afghanistan as soon as possible, but did not offer details of the size of the aid package.

Around 1,000 people are already confirmed dead from the quake in a remote part of the country this week.

Earlier, the European Union announced 1 million euros for the earthquake relief efforts in Afghanistan.

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India reopens embassy in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

India reopened its embassy in Kabul on Thursday, more than 10 months after closing it following the takeover of the city by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

Indian media reported that New Delhi has sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul.

The move comes a few weeks after a team headed by senior Indian foreign ministry official J.P. Singh travelled to Kabul and met with IEA officials.

The Indian embassy will become the 15th mission to open in Kabul under the rule of IEA, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states.

“In order to closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has reached Kabul today and has been deployed in our Embassy there,” Indian foreign ministry said in an announcement, citing India’s “historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people” as the reason for the decision.

IEA welcomed India’s move to reopen its embassy in Kabul.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of IEA’s foreign ministry, called on India to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans.

India meanwhile has sent its first consignment of earthquake relief aid to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 people have been killed by the disaster.

India’s foreign ministry said the assistance was handed over by the Indian team that travelled aboard an Indian Air Force Ilyushin-76 aircraft, in the first such military, non-commercial transportation since last year.

In a separate development, Afghan Interior Ministry called for Afghan military cadets trained in India and other countries to return to the country and serve their people.

“Afghan cadets trained in India and other countries are a source of our national strength,” the Interior Ministry said on Twitter. “The Interior Ministry of the Islamic Emirate is ready to recruit these graduates according to their education & profession. Hopefully, they will return to the country & serve their people.”

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Talking to the IEA is the ‘only way forward’, UNAMA official

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(Last Updated On: June 24, 2022)

The devastating earthquake on Wednesday is just one of several emergencies facing Afghanistan, and continued dialogue with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities remains the only way to address ongoing challenges in the country, the UN Security Council heard on Thursday. 

Before being briefed by Ramiz Alakbarov, Acting Special Representative at the UN’s Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and Martin Griffiths, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator ambassadors stood and observed a minute of silence for the victims of Wednesday’s deadly earthquake. 

Alakbarov provided an update on the earthquake, before turning to the ongoing human rights, economic and humanitarian challenges the country is facing. 

He said despite difficulties, “we firmly continue to believe that a strategy of continued engagement and dialogue remains to be the only way forward for the sake of the Afghan people, as well as for the sake of regional and international security.” 

He also said the human rights situation in Afghanistan remains precarious. 

He stated that the economic crisis is perhaps the single most important issue in Afghanistan, and a potential driver of conflict and misery. It is estimated the economy contracted by up to 40 percent since August last year. 

Unemployment could reach 40 percent this year, up from 13 percent in 2021, while the official poverty rate could climb as high as 97 percent he said. 

“If the economy is not able to recover and grow meaningfully and sustainably, then the Afghan people will face repeated humanitarian crises; potentially spurring mass migration and making conditions ripe for radicalization and renewed armed conflict,” he warned. 

According to him, Afghanistan also remains highly vulnerable to future climate and geopolitical shocks. Drought, floods, disease outbreaks affecting both people and livestock, as well as natural disasters like the earthquake, are further deepening vulnerabilities. 

Alakbarov stressed the need to prioritize rural areas, with focus on agricultural and food systems to prevent hunger. This will also help to reduce child labour, improve health outcomes, and create the environment that will enable social development and change. 

“It will also pave the way for substitution agriculture to replace the poppy cultivation, allowing us to capitalize on the de facto authority’s recent ban on poppy and narcotic cultivation,” he said.  

“While doing so we need to continue to provide adequate attention to clearance of widely unexploded ordnance of war. This bottom-up approach to economic recovery is shared by the de facto authorities and would help the most vulnerable.” 

He said armed opposition attacks against the de facto authorities doubled in May, compared to the previous month and that while the number of Daesh attacks has generally decreased, their geographic scope has widened from six to 11 provinces.  

“We cannot exclude the possibility of increased instability if peoples’ rights are denied and if they do not see themselves in their government,” he said. 

Alakbarov said in the coming month, the UN will seek to promote political consultation and inclusion, and engagement with the IEA will continue. 

Addressing humanitarian response, Alakbarov highlighted how aid partners have reached some 20 million Afghans between January and April this year alone, including nearly 250,000 returnees and some 95,000 people affected by floods and weather-related events. 

However, the humanitarian crisis persists, and sustained support will be needed through next year, he said.

Griffiths, the UN’s relief chief meanwhile reported that more than 190 aid organizations are operating in Afghanistan, where nearly half the population, 19 million people, are facing food insecurity. 

This includes more than six million people at emergency level – the highest number of any country in the world at risk of famine-like conditions, he said. 

Griffiths also underscored the pressing need for funding. A $4.4 billion humanitarian plan for Afghanistan is only one-third funded, despite pledges of $2.4 billion made at the launch in March. 

 

 

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