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Pentagon admits Kabul drone strike was ‘tragic mistake’

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

A drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children, the US military said on Friday, apologizing for what it called a “tragic mistake”.

The Pentagon had said the August 29 strike targeted an Islamic State (ISIS-K) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops at the airport as they completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Even as reports of civilian casualties emerged, the top U.S. general had described the attack as “righteous”, Reuters reported.

The head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, said that at the time he had been confident it averted an imminent threat to the forces at the airport.

“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie told reporters.

He said he now believed it unlikely that those killed were members of the local Islamic State affiliate, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), or posed a threat to U.S. troops. The Pentagon was considering reparations, McKenzie said.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the drone strike had killed a Mr. Ahmadi who worked for a non-profit called Nutrition and Education International.

“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced,” Austin said in the statement.

“We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.”

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Japan gives over $106 million in aid to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2022)

Japan announced Tuesday that it has decided to give an additional $106.7 million in assistance to Afghanistan to help combat the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.

In a statement issued by the Japanese Embassy in Kabul, the mission said: “Pleased to announce that Japan has decided additional 106.7 million USD assistance for Afghanistan, enabling implementation of humanitarian and basic human needs assistance projects. We truly hope these projects will help bring many smiles of Afghan people!”

The mission said these projects will be implemented by UN agencies, international organizations and NGOs, all aiming for the betterment of livelihoods through multiple approaches.

With the upcoming $106.7 million, the cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since August 2021 will amount to $335 million, the statement read.

This comes just days after US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West has held talks with Japanese officials in Tokyo on humanitarian needs and human rights issues in Afghanistan.

“Japan has been a friend of the Afghan people and our partner there for over 20 yrs, and we deeply appreciate Japan’s active diplomacy and continued generosity today,” West said on Saturday.

“We are always stronger, on every challenge, when we act together with allies. True in Afghanistan – we’ll continue to need Japan’s expertise and diverse contributions,” West said.

The envoy also said that he got “sage advice” from Tadamichi Yamamoto, a Japanese who served as UN envoy for Afghanistan during 2016-2020.

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UN Security Council temporarily lifts travel ban on senior IEA official

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The UN Security Council has lifted the travel ban on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, for a period of 10 days, so he can attend an event in Russia, officials in Afghanistan stated.

The UN Security Council failed to extend a travel ban exemption on Khairkhah along with other IEA officials two months ago.

This latest temporary travel ban exemption is said to have come into effect on December 1 and will run through until December 10, allowing Khairkhah to travel to Kazan, the capital of the Russian Federation’s Republic of Tatarstan.

Khairkhah was formerly imprisoned in Guantanamo and was released in 2014 in exchange for an American soldier.

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Migration to Germany to hit 1.2 million in 2022: report

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

More people will have sought refuge in Germany in 2022 than at the height of the European migrant crisis, Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.

The newspaper said the country is on course to see 1.2 million new arrivals this year — a 35% increase from 2015 when 890,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing the Syrian war, came to the country.

This year’s tally was calculated from the more than a million Ukrainian refugees welcomed in Germany since Russia’s invasion unfolded in February and an expected 200,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year.

By the end of October, some 181,612 asylum applications were recorded, Welt am Sonntag reported, mostly from Syrian, Afghan, Turkish and Iraqi nationals.

Municipalities face resource squeeze

German municipalities are reported to have reached their limit in processing such a large number of new arrivals, sparking concern from politicians like Armin Schuster, the interior minister for the eastern state of Saxony.

“We are approaching 200,000 asylum seekers this year. In the last legislature, this number was defined as the upper limit,” Schuster told the paper. While he said his state continues to “stand up for Ukraine, no ifs or buts,” any free capacity will soon be exhausted.

German MEP Manfred Weber warned of a “dramatic winter of refuge,” referring to an expected increase in migrant and refugee arrivals during the winter months.

Some analysts have warned that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians could flee the country as Russian forces continue to target the country’s energy infrastructure, sparking widespread power cuts during the winter cold.

“Germany is currently sleepwalking into a new migration crisis,” Weber warned, noting a similar pressure on authorities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

Last month, the EU refugee agency said asylum applications had reached a new post-2015 high.

The government said it was supporting states and municipalities with €3.5 billion ($3.69 billion) this year, with another €2.75 billion earmarked for 2023, and has provided more than 67,000 spaces for accommodation.

Schuster said Germany’s migration policy needed more than just “warm words” and called for “a noticeable braking effect on asylum access via the East Mediterranean route,” referring to how many migrants arrive in EU territory via Turkey and Greece.

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