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Taliban Demands Release of 82 Prisoners in Exchange for Two Professors

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(Last Updated On: October 31, 2019)

The Taliban militant group has given a list of 82 prisoners – to be exchanged with two foreign university professors – to the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

Wahid Muzhda, a pro-Taliban political analyst on Thursday told Ariana News that the list includes key members of the group including designated governors, war commanders, and two key members of the Haqqani Network, Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid, who are kept in Bagram, Pul-e-Charkhi and Afghan Intelligence agency prisons.

Kevin King and Timothy Weeks from Australia were teaching at Kabul’s American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) before gunmen took them hostage near the campus in August 2016.

Meanwhile, government sources said the U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has told Afghan leaders that releasing of these inmates will facilitate the resumption of Afghan peace process including the intra-Afghan talks.

Recently, the Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said Khalilzad discussed the release of two professors during his latest visit to Kabul.

Mohib further explained President Ashraf Ghani’s new plan for peace that requires Taliban to announce at least a month of ceasefire before the start of any negotiations.

For the past couple of years, the government was ready for negotiations with the Taliban without any pre-condition and that has changed now, he added.

Here in Kabul, Afghan officials are holding meetings with foreign diplomats on daily basis, discussing the peace process.

On Wednesday, President Ghani’s National Security Advisor met with the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Aleksandr Mantytsky in Kabul where they discussed the regional consensus for peace.

In addition, in a video message sent to media outlets, Spokesman of the National Security Council Kabir Haqmal re-emphasized on the government’s Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

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Earthquake victims in Gayan district still in need of food and shelter

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Hundreds of survivors of this week’s earthquake, who lost family members and their homes, are still in desperate need of help.

Sayed Bakhta, one of the survivors said that he has lost four family members and two others are hospitalized, adding that survivors are dealing with a lack of food and no shelter.

“We have no shelter here now, we don’t have food, all the victims are sitting outside without having shelter,” he said.

A number of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) officials who have visited Gayan district of Paktika say that almost 90 percent of residential areas have been destroyed.

“Almost 90 percent of residences are destroyed; only a few them are suitable for living, most of them are uninhabitable,” said Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health.

In the meantime, rugged roads have hampered relief efforts as Gayan victims grapple with a humanitarian crisis, but military helicopter try to deliver aid to the victims.

“According to the order of the Prime Minister, a meeting was held and according to that meeting, the ministries and donor organizations were instructed to come to the earthquake site as soon as possible and use all their facilities to save the people,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management.

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121 children among those killed in Afghanistan earthquake: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

The United Nations children’s agency said on Friday 121 of those who were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan this week were children.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said as of late Thursday night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured.

The toll included 121 deaths and 67 injuries among the children, according to the official.

He said that Bermal district in Paktika province has the highest number of casualties and that several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” Ayoya said.

“UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component,” Ayoya said.
“UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.”

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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