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Remote villages destroyed, families decimated in eastern Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: June 24, 2022)

Scenes of utter devastation continued to emerge Friday in the remote Gayan district of Paktika province, as emergency efforts to treat the injured and provide essential aid continued.

In the village of Slasha, a young girl sat on the rubble of what was once her home, and held on tightly to her young brother who sat on her lap.

Najia told Ariana News at the scene that her mother and two sisters had been killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning when their house collapsed during the quake.

Another resident, Momen Khan, said that of the 30 villages in the district, at least six had been completely destroyed. He said that over 350 people were killed in these six villages.

Another child, of just four, sat with two other girls on rubble in Khanaden village. The four-year-old, Alima, said her mother and three sisters had been killed while her father and another two sisters were injured.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Slasha village lay the newly laid out cemetery, with jagged rocks marking each grave. It was here where survivors hurriedly buried their loved ones Thursday, in keeping with Muslim tradition.

Residents said that 80 people had been buried here on Thursday, all of whom had lived in just two villages in the area.

On Friday morning, grieving survivors could be seen sitting at some of the graves as they struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.

One survivor, 65-year-old Abdullah Abed, sat at one grave and said he had lost 12 members of his immediate family in Wednesday’s quake.

Pointing at two graves, he said: “My daughter and my grandson are buried there.”

Again he pointed to more graves and said: “Here, two of my brother’s wives are buried,” adding “and there two of my nephews are buried”.

Jan Mohammad, from Slasha village, said 30 people were killed in his village alone, while Sayed Rahman said he lost five of his immediate family members.

For these survivors, not only have they lost their loved ones but also their homes and livestock.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) was however quick to respond to the crisis and did not hesitate to call for help.

So much so that Tony Lanzer, the former UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan said Friday that the speed of help provided by this regime in Kabul was quicker than any help provided by the former government in similar circumstances in the past.

Meanwhile, Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani visited quake-hit areas and assured locals they would get help.

He said that although the devastation has happened in remote areas which lack resources, the government is working to address the needs of those affected.

The response to the IEA’s calls for help have so far been positive and emergency aid has been sent in by a number of countries including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, India, Qatar and the UAE.

Flights are landing directly in Khost in order to speed up the process.

Aid organizations and NGOs have also stepped in to help provide shelter, clothing, blankets and even medical facilities.

While help is being provided, Paktika residents were however subjected to another quake early Friday morning – a 4.3 magnitude temblor.

Eleven others were injured, local officials said.

According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the quake happened at 6:13 a.m. with its epicenter 55 kilometers south-southwest of Khost province.

Khost was the epicenter of Wednesday’s 6.1-magnitude earthquake that killed over 1,000 people and injured 2,000 others. It was the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in two decades.

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27% of Afghans regularly use tobacco: health ministry



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

Marking World No Tobacco Day, Public Health Ministry officials said on Wednesday that 27% of Afghans regularly use tobacco, of which 2.7% are women.

Mohammad Hassan Ghiyasi, Deputy Minister of Policy and Planning of the Ministry of Public Health, said that tobacco kills eight million people worldwide every year and tobacco smoke is one of the main causes of air pollution, which causes dangerous diseases such as lung cancer and heart diseases.

Citing a national survey conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization, he added that nearly 20 percent of Afghan people use smokeless tobacco, mainly Naswar.

A number of other officials of the Ministry of Public Health also said that the number of patients with mouth cancer due to the use of tobacco has increased recently in the country.

“Tobacco not only causes respiratory or heart diseases, but also mouth cancer, which has been observed among young people who use Naswar and Paan (both smokeless tobacco) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The number of people suffering from this disease is increasing day by day,” Haider Khan Haider, Director General of Disease Prevention and Control of the Ministry of Public Health, said.

Meanwhile, a representative of the World Health Organization said that 80% of tobacco cultivation and processing takes place in countries that are poor.

“The World Health Organization wants the honorable Ministry of Public Health to continue its technical support in the area of tobacco control, like other areas,” Naeemullah Safi, representative of WHO, said.

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Muttaqi urges foreign nations to refuse sanctuary to Afghan migrants



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

The Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Tuesday that security in the country has been restored and Afghans should not leave the country under the pretext that their lives are in danger.

Speaking to family members of the 18 deceased migrants, whose remains were returned from Bulgaria last week, Muttaqi also called on the international community not to take in Afghans who say their lives are in danger.

“The world should not harm Afghanistan’s talents, talents and honor and should not expel them from this country under the name that their lives are in danger,” he said adding: “Don’t oppress them [Afghans] anymore, 20 years of war is enough, they have martyred countless Afghans.”

Muttaqi also expressed his condolences and promised the families of the deceased he would cooperate with them.

The bodies of the 18 migrants were returned to the country last week, three months after they were found dead in an abandoned van outside Sofia in Bulgaria.

Muttaqi raised the issue of the delay in repatriating the bodies and said sanctions were to blame. “The process faced many obstacles and the reason for the delay in the transfer of bodies was this issue (international sanctions).”

He said however that all Afghans are free to travel abroad but they should not use the system to secure asylum.

Family members of the deceased migrants meanwhile said that many young people are deceived by human traffickers who get them to Europe via dangerous routes.

These families called on the IEA to stamp out the issue and end human trafficking in the country.

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Qatar prime minister, IEA supreme leader hold secret talks



(Last Updated On: May 31, 2023)

The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan this month on resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting told Reuters.

The May 12 meeting in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar between Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Hibatullah Akhundzada is the first the reclusive IEA leader is known to have held with a foreign leader.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration was briefed on the talks and is “coordinating on all issues discussed” by the pair, including furthering dialogue with the IEA, the source told Reuters.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said other issues Sheikh Mohammed raised with Hibatullah included the need to end IEA bans on girls’ education and women’s employment.

The meeting represents a diplomatic success for Qatar, which has criticized IEA restrictions on women while using its long-standing ties to push for deeper engagement with Kabul by the international community.

Reuters reported that the source’s comments suggested that Washington supported elevating what have been unproductive lower-level talks in the hope of a breakthrough that could end the world’s only bans of their kind and ease dire humanitarian and financial crises that have left tens of millions of Afghans hungry and jobless.

The White House declined to comment on the talks. The State Department and the Qatar embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate, told Ariana News that the purpose of the Qatari Prime Minister’s visit to Kandahar was to meet Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate.

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