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Red Cross urges donors to put lives of Afghans above politics

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2022)

The international community must step up urgently to stop Afghanistan’s rapid slide towards total collapse and all-out humanitarian disaster, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned.

Six months after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took control, resulting in international sanctions and the freezing of aid, the continuing reluctance of many international donors to engage with the current leadership is worsening the desperate plight of millions of Afghans already worn down by more than four decades of conflict, repeated droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic, ICRC said in a statement released Thursday.

“In my 25 years as a humanitarian worker, I have never seen anything quite like this. The magnitude of the crisis facing the people of Afghanistan – and the speed with which it has worsened – is really alarming,” said Robert Mardini, director-general of the ICRC, during a visit to the country.

“Afghan lives must not be hostage to political manoeuvres. It is vital that donors distinguish between the type of development aid that might be used as political incentive and aid that will help ordinary Afghans to survive – by ensuring that government institutions can deliver basic services and prevent economic collapse. There is no time to lose.”

ICRC said that health services are among those in most urgent need of support. It cited an ICRC-supported hospital in Kandahar as an example of how it was overcrowded.

“Access to healthcare is clearly one the most pressing humanitarian concerns in the country,” said Anders Ladekarl, secretary-general of the Danish Red Cross society. “Supporting teaching hospitals and nursing schools is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to save an already-debilitated health system from collapse and help secure its future. The urgency of putting the right support in place cannot be overestimated.”

Kristiina Kumpula, secretary-general of the Finnish Red Cross society, said the levels of suffering in Afghanistan is “very distressing.”

“Afghanistan was already one of the most difficult places in the world to be a mother or an infant. Now it is harder than ever.”

Mardini said that humanitarian response cannot replace a functioning public sector and ensure service delivery for 40 million people.

“The most urgent next steps are salary payments for some 500,000 public sector civil servants, ensuring that critical services are able to function, and resuming technical support to the Central Bank to relieve the banking and liquidity crisis,” he said.

ICRC will launch an appeal of around $54 million in March, mostly to provide assistance to the country’s hospitals and medical staff.

“What is needed now is decisive action by donors to put the lives and livelihoods of Afghan people above politics,” Mardini, said. “The cost of inaction will be very much greater, and the ensuing disaster difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.”

Earlier this week, ICRC said that the Afghan people’s need for humanitarian assistance has increased by 30 percent.

The committee said 24.4 million people across Afghanistan were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, UNICEF said on Thursday around 3.2 million Afghan children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year.

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Thousands of Afghans protest against desecration of Quran in Sweden, Netherlands

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Thousands of people took to the streets in different cities of Afghanistan on Friday to protest against the recent desecration of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Chanting slogans against both the European countries, protesters called for the perpetrators of the acts to be punished.

“The Holy Quran is the book of brotherhood. This book never insults the sacred things of others. We want that such offensive acts should be prevented in the future,” said Ahmad Khan, a protester in Kabul.

Ismail, another protester in Kabul, said: “We ask Islamic countries to cut off their diplomatic relations with Sweden and the Netherlands until the perpetrators of insulting the Holy Quran are publicly punished.”

Some of the protesters said that they are ready to give their lives to defend their sacred things.

“We are ready to sacrifice our heads, property and children to the Quran,” Qutbuddin said.

In the northern province of Balkh, people protested by chanting slogans against acts of insult to the Quran. The protesters asked the international community and the Muslim world to prevent such acts.

“This crime is a repeated crime. Since countries are obliged to obey to the international laws, such crimes must be stopped,” said Mohammad Naeem, a protester in Balkh.

“Muslims have taught the enemies of Quran and Islam a lesson throughout history, and they will not allow anyone to insult their religion and Quran,” said Maulvi Qahir, a protester in Balkh.

In the province of Herat, protester changed “Death to Sweden and long live Islam.”

“These countries present themselves as friends, but these acts show that they are our enemies and are real terrorists. In international laws, insulting the sacred things is considered a crime. No one has the right to insult the sacred things of a country or a religion,” said Qasim, a protester in Herat.

“We ask the international community, the United Nations and human rights organizations to bring the perpetrators of insults to the Quran to justice as soon as possible. We respect the whole world and we expect that our religion will always be respected,” said Emal, a protester in Herat.

In the east of the country, the people of Nangarhar also took to the streets after Friday prayers to condemn the desecration of Quran.

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Turkmenistan and Afghanistan renew power supply contract

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Afghanistan’s Minister of Energy and Water Affairs, Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor, and the Executive Chairman of Afghanistan’s power utility company (DABS), Alhaji Maulawi Muhammad Hanif Hamza, visited Turkmenistan this week where they signed agreements for the supply of electricity and other joint initiatives.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water Affairs, the extension of the electricity contract with Turkmenistan, the completion of the 500KV line project, the construction of Noor ul Jihad substation, and the establishment of necessary coordination for the implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan project were the focus of their trip.

Mansoor said that the electricity export agreement with Turkmenistan was extended for the year 2023 and also assurances were given by Turkmenistan regarding the implementation of the projects.

The ministry underlined that with the completion of the 500 KV line and the construction of Noor ul Jihad substation, the amount of electricity imported from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan will increase by 110 megawatts.

“With the implementation of the TAP project and the 500 kV line that passes through Afghanistan to Pakistan, the residents of many provinces of Afghanistan will benefit from electricity”, the ministry said.

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FM Muttaqi meets Norwegian Charge d’Affaires for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Norwegian Chargé d’Affaires for Afghanistan Paul Koloman Bkar called on Amir Khan Muttaqi, the foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), in Kabul and discussed humanitarian aid, security, development cooperation and political issues, said Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal, the deputy spokesman of the foreign ministry.

Mr. Bkar first expressed his regret over the explosion in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and expressed that his country is determined to work together with international partners through political interaction with Afghanistan considering the current authorities and governance of Afghanistan is a reality and the world should deal with it realistically.

FM Muttaqi said efforts should be made to bring the world and Afghanistan closer to each other, Norway has good experience in this work and can play a role. He added that positive measures of the new Afghan government should be appreciated and given a positive response.

“After decades, we have ensured global security, we have effectively fought against Daesh and drugs and we are committed so that all-round stability prevails in the country and no threat is perceived from Afghanistan,” said Muttaqi.

Minister Muttaqi said, as history has shown, using pressure options in Afghanistan is not useful and now we should move forward on the path of cooperation with each other.

Meanwhile, both sides discussed incomplete projects, education and training and a number of other issues that are suspended due to some obstacles.

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