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Stoltenberg says Afghan forces can cope alone

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2021)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the government and the Afghan security forces are strong enough to stand on their own without the help of foreign troops.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Stoltenberg said: “I think that the Afghans, they also realize that we have been there now for 20 years and we have invested heavily in blood and treasure in Afghanistan.”

“Afghanistan has come a long way, both when it comes to building strong, capable security forces, but also when it comes to social and economic progress. At some stage, it has to be the Afghans that take full responsibility for peace and stability in their own country,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said that NATO countries would continue to support Afghanistan through civilian experts who will help to advise government ministries, by funding the security forces and with support for slow-moving peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

He said that NATO is also “looking into the possibility of providing some training out of country for the Afghan security forces, but no final decision has been taken.”

U.S. military leaders are still grappling with how best to carry out President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September while helping Afghan forces and monitoring the threat that prompted the U.S. invasion of the country 20 years ago, AP reported.

Biden and Stoltenberg will meet with the other leaders of the 30-nation military alliance on June 14 to usher in a new era in trans-Atlantic ties after four tumultuous years of the former Trump administration. The other big issue will be Afghanistan, although no Afghan leaders are due to attend the Brussels summit, AP reported.

Asked about the impact of leaving Afghanistan without the security guarantee that has helped keep the Taliban at bay, Stoltenberg said that “there are risks entailed to the decision of ending NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan. We have been very transparent and clear-eyed about that.”

“At the same time, to continue to stay means that we will also have to take some risks; the risk of more fighting, the risk of being forced to increase the number of troops there, and the risk of remaining with a (military) mission,” he said.

Many officials have expressed concern that once the U.S. leaves, the government and its armed forces will be quickly overrun by the Taliban. Violence has steadily mounted in recent months as the drawdown gathered pace, AP reported.

It remains unclear what level of security might be needed, and who would provide it, to protect international embassies spread around the capital Kabul. The city’s airport, the main international gateway to Afghanistan, and the route to it must also be protected.

Stoltenberg said that NATO plans to provide financial support to keep Kabul airport up and running, but — just a few months before the alliance ends its biggest, costliest and most ambitious mission ever — the details of how all this might play out remained unclear.

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US commits $150 million in aid for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

The United States announced Friday $150 million in new aid for Afghanistan to improve food security and support women and girls in the country.

The US Agency for International Development said an $80 million commitment to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will improve food security and nutrition for Afghans experiencing severe food insecurity, including women, women-headed households, and smallholder farmers and herders.

With this assistance, USAID will help Afghan farmers increase the production of nutritious food using environmentally-sustainable practices, and increase the availability of quality seeds and other agricultural inputs.

This funding will also improve smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate and economic shocks through crop diversification and promoting agricultural best practices, including through support to small-scale food producers, women, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers.

USAID and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed a $40 million agreement to increase international support for Afghan children, particularly adolescent girls, to realize their right to education.

This is USAID’s newest contribution to Afghanistan’s education sectors and comes after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) March announcement blocking girls above grade six from school. 

With the funding provided by USAID through this agreement, UNICEF will have the resources to provide hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Afghans with desperately needed cash assistance to keep their children in school.

USAID also announced a $30 million commitment to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in Afghanistan.

This funding will be programmed through the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

The “Enabling Essential Services for Afghan Women and Girls” activity will increase Afghan women and girls’ access to social protection services; provide resources and support for women-led civil society organizations working to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan; and increase women’s economic empowerment through skills and business development training and entrepreneurship support, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said in a statement.

The funding will provide direct support for Afghan women’s civil society organizations.

“As women and girls face rising rates of gender-based violence in Afghanistan, this funding for UN Women will also provide women and girl survivors of violence with access to free and safe accommodation, legal aid and healthcare, psycho-social support, counseling, and vocational training,” USAID statement said.

The funding will also help UN Women respond to the urgent and immediate livelihoods needs of Afghan women, and help them build income security through private sector partnerships that will create job opportunities and help Afghan women launch or rebuild their micro, small or medium businesses.

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Mysterious fires destroy dozens of homes in Jowzjan

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

More than 50 homes have been destroyed by mysterious fires in a village in Afghanistan’s northern Jowzjan province, officials said this week.

The fires have happened in Bala Mardian village of Faizabad district.

Sirajuddin Ahmadi, police chief of Jowzjan, said that the fires are increasing day by day.

“Yesterday 12 homes caught fire. Today people held Khatm Qur’an ceremony (reading Qur’an) and prayed. Within an hour today, three or four homes caught fire. I hope officials and leaders of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will pay special attention to the victims,” Ahmadi said.

There are no reports of deaths caused by the fires.

Noorullah Musafir, the provincial director of labor and social affairs, however, said that some people including women and children were hospitalized.

Meanwhile, local residents said that mysterious creatures could be seen during the fires.

“People are suffering from the problem. They initially thought that it was human, but later it was found that only children and women can see it. A creature is seen in the home, but when we enter the home, no one is there,” a Jowzjan resident said.

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DAB says technical agreements in place to print new bank notes

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

The country’s central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) said Thursday they have reached agreements with a number of foreign countries and money printing facilities to print new bank notes for the country.

“We have collected and burned the old money, we have reached an agreement with the money printing offices and countries and we expect to proceed according to the plan and present you with the results, we are proceeding based on national interests; discussions have been held with countries and banks and they will help Afghanistan,” said Lutful Haq Noor Pasarlay, DAB’s policy deputy head.

Abdulqahar known as Haji Muhammad Edris, the acting head of De Afghanistan Bank, also spoke at the event and mapped out achievements made by the central bank in the past 12 months.

“Maintaining the stability of the value of the Afghani currency, maintaining the sustainability of commercial banks, providing banking services, facilitating cross-border transfers and developing new systems were some of the issues in the attention of Da Afghanistan Bank during the last year,” said Abdulqahar.

According to officials, in order to improve the banking sector and prevent criminal activities, the law to prevent terrorism financing, the regulation of preventive measures against money laundering, the management plan for the liquidity problem of the banking sector, the plan to revive the financial and banking sector, and the crisis management policy, have been drawn up and will soon be adopted.

The officials also said that in order to release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves, several internal and external meetings have been organized with the relevant parties and discussions have been held on technical matters.

The last meeting of technical representatives of Afghanistan and the United States, for releasing Afghanistan’s frozen assets, was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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