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RSF sounds alarm on World Press Freedom Day

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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) on Monday sounded the alarm about the plight of the media and the future for journalism in Afghanistan.

In a statement issued by the RSF, the organizations said: “The press freedom situation is disastrous in Afghanistan 14 months after the Taliban and United States signed a peace accord on 29 February 2020, and eight months after the Taliban and Afghan government began peace talks.”

At least 20 journalists and media workers have been the victims of targeted attacks in the past six months and eight, including four women, have been killed. Around 30 others have received death threats in connection with their journalistic work, RSF stated.

“The climate of terror keeps on growing and particularly affects women journalists, whose situation was already precarious.

“The precarity of Afghan women journalists has increased not only as a result of the physical dangers but also as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown,” CPAWJ director Farida Nekzad said.

“At least 20% of them have lost their jobs or have been forced to take unpaid leave by their employers.”

UNAMA also called for the campaign of violence against journalists and media workers in the country to end.

“Journalists must be protected, and those who commit acts of violence and murder against workers in the sector must be brought to justice,” UNAMA said in a statement.

“We recognise that female journalists and media professionals are particularly at risk. The impunity for such crimes remains a serious challenge and creates a chilling environment, limiting the media sector’s ability to operate freely.

“Afghanistan’s free and independent media sector has been hard won. Many Afghans have sacrificed their time, their energy, their money and, for some, their lives to build this crucial public good. We pledge our continued support in defence of a free and independent Afghan media. It must be defended,” the statement read.

Afghanistan’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah also acknowledged the importance of the day and tweeted: “While I am celebrating the remarkable achievements of Afghanistan’s media and our courageous journalists, I also recognize and remember their sacrifices in defending and shaping a vibrant free press.

“As always I am committed to a free press and access to information,” he said.

The wider international community in Afghanistan also issued a statement on reaffirming commitment to supporting Afghan journalists and the media sector.

“The UK remains committed to supporting Afghanistan. A free and independent media and a strong media sector is an essential part of an inclusive and representative Afghanistan. As we transition to a new chapter of international support for Afghanistan, as Afghanistan’s international friends and partners, we reaffirm our commitment to stand by its journalists and the media sector”

“As Afghanistan’s international friends and partners, we reaffirm our commitment to stand by its journalists and the media sector.

“We continue to support Afghan journalists, to stand up for their rights, and to oppose undue restrictions on their work,” the statement read.

The international community also condemned the campaign of violence against journalists and media professionals and said this “must end”.

“Journalists must be protected, and those who commit acts of violence and murder against workers in the sector must be brought to justice.

We recognise that female journalists and media professionals are particularly at risk. The impunity for such crimes remains a serious challenge and creates a chilling environment, limiting the media sector’s ability to operate freely,” read the statement.

“Afghanistan’s free and independent media sector has been hard won. Many Afghans have sacrificed their time, their energy, their money and, for some, their lives to build this crucial public good. We pledge our continued support in defence of a free and independent Afghan media. It must be defended.”

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UNSC’s ceasefire resolution an ‘initial step’ to ending Palestinian ‘genocide’: IEA

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Deputy spokesperson for the foreign ministry Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal says the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the adoption of this week’s resolution by the United Nations Security Council aimed at ending the war in Gaza as an initial step to end the genocide of the people in Gaza.

Takal said in a statement on Wednesday that it requires realistic negotiation to lead to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, ensuring a normal life for its people.

He stated that the IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” and supports the historic right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state.

Ceasefire resolution

The UN Security Council on Monday overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The US-sponsored resolution welcomes a cease-fire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the United States says Israel has accepted.

It calls on the militant Palestinian group Hamas to accept the three-phase plan.

The resolution — which was approved with 14 of the 15 Security Council members voting in favor and Russia abstaining — calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Whether Israel and Hamas agree to go forward with the plan remains in question, but the resolution’s strong support in the UN’s most powerful body puts added pressure on both parties to approve the proposal.

Netanyahu has been skeptical of the deal, saying that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

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AWCC opens new customer services center in Parun, Nuristan

Nuristan residents have welcomed the opening of AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services in the province

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Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) has officially opened a new customer services center in Parun city, the capital of Nuristan province.

AWCC officials said at the launch of the new center that customers experiencing problems with AWCC can now visit the facility for assistance – for both mobile phone and internet services.

Attaullah Sahil, head of AWCC in the eastern zone, said that telecommunication facilities will also now be increased for residents of Parun city.

Local officials, meanwhile, stated that in most areas of Nuristan, people do not have access to telecommunication and internet services and that they are trying to expand such services in the province.

“We are happy that Afghan Wireless opened its customer service office in Paron city,” said Khalid Fateh, the local director of the telecommunication and information department.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless” – Nuristan resident

“We request that Afghan Wireless activate its sales offices in every district of Nuristan,” Fateh added.

Officials also said that security of telecommunication infrastructure in the province is secure enough for companies to expand their networks.

Nuristan residents have meanwhile welcomed the opening of the AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services.

They have however called for the cost of the services to be reduced.

“Many thanks to Afghan Wireless for building this big office,” a resident said.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless. We want more conveniences,” said another resident.

Making a difference

AWCC was recognised as Afghanistan’s Telecom Company of the Year at the 2024 Asian Telecom Awards earlier this year.

This award reflects the company’s market leadership in Afghanistan, with more than five million subscribers, the country’s largest 4G LTE network and a growing high-speed, nationwide fiber network.

In the last year, AWCC has increased its active customer base by more than 10%, primarily driven by increased data users attracted by the company’s pioneering digital-first products and services, including its innovative ASAN mobile application.

To meet this rapidly growing data demand across the country, AWCC upgraded and expanded its market-leading mobile network by almost 15%, adding nearly 200 sites to reach even more rural and remote regions.

In parallel, the company inaugurated its Kabul-Mazar-Hairaton fiber route, connecting Central Asia to South Asia and placing Afghanistan at the center of the region’s digital connectivity hub.

AWCC also ramped up its efforts to help Afghanistan and its people in the past year by utilizing its technology to deliver critical support to tackle several humanitarian challenges.

The company mobilized swiftly to provide emergency connectivity, financial, logistics and humanitarian assistance following a series of severe earthquakes in Herat, and ongoing communications support for the influx of returnees at Afghanistan’s borders, through the set-up of temporary mobile sites and distribution of free SIM cards.

Asian Telecom Awards honors businesses and initiatives like AWCC that have not only driven progress in the telecom industry but have also ignited transformative shifts that have reshaped the digital landscape.

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Iran Air starts flights to Kabul

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The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said Wednesday that Iran Air International Airlines has launched direct flights to Kabul for the first time.

The ministry said in a statement that Iran Air will have flights to Kabul once a week.

According to the statement, Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air, Mahan, Kish, and Yazd Airlines also have flights to Iran.

Earlier, Turkish Airlines also resumed its flights to Kabul.

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