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Turkey sends humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2022)

A special “charity train” carrying tons of emergency goods under the coordination of Turkey’s government left Ankara, the capital of Turkey, for Afghanistan on Thursday, Anadolu agency reported.

The train, with aid from 11 humanitarian organizations coordinated by the state Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), is bound for a journey of 4,168 kilometers (3,590 miles), according to Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu.

“We have two trains with 47 wagons, carrying approximately 750 tons of charity goods,” Karaismailoglu said, adding that the train will reach Afghanistan after first passing through Iran and Turkmenistan, read the report.

Citing the start of an Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul cargo train last December, he said the charity train will travel the corridor in 16 days.

For his part, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu stressed that 12.9 million children in Afghanistan are in need of aid due to extreme weather conditions, Anadolu reported.

“For the past four years, we have been the country, the nation that has given the most aid in the world,” said Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

According to the UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over 9 million people have been displaced, and millions of children are out of school.

Previously, the UN and its partners launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has also warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of death, urging the international community to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets and jump-start its banking system.

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IEA delegation in Uzbekistan for talks on expanding economic ties

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

Leading a delegation of officials, Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi left for Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on Saturday and will meet with Uzbek authorities to discuss the expansion of trade, facilitating transit and solving problems of Afghan businessmen.

A number of businessmen and investors are also accompany Azizi on this trip. 

These businessmen say that they plan to discuss joint ventures with Uzbek businessmen.

While relations between Kabul and Tashkent have improved, the hope is that economic ties can be strengthened. 

According to Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Investment (ACCI) officials, the annual trade volume between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan totals $400 million but, they say, there is huge potential to expand these relations.

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Pakistan to issue six-month multiple entry visas to Afghan truck drivers

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed authorities to issue six-month multiple entry visas to truck drivers from Afghanistan, it was reported Wednesday.

Initially, multiple entry visas will be issued for a period of six months, and later it could be extended to period of one year, Pakistan’s The News reported.

Documents required with the visa application will include the applicant’s photograph, passport, registration as a transport company, and employment letter.

The move is aimed at promoting trade with Afghanistan.

Moreover, for the promotion of ease of doing business, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Board of Investment will link the online visa system with online payments.

“We need to remove all hurdles for Afghans in order to help them and to provide them a conducive environment to invest in Pakistan…,” Sharif said, noting that a policy in this regard would be formulated within two weeks.

This comes a day after Pakistan’s PM ordered import of coal from Afghanistan to be paid in rupees.

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IEA calls for release of frozen funds following deadly earthquake

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on international governments to roll back sanctions and lift a freeze on central bank assets following the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless.

The 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the east of the country early on Wednesday destroyed or damaged 10,000 homes and injured about 2,000 people.

“The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give the Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life and that is through lifting the sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also giving assistance,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, foreign affairs ministry spokesman, told Reuters in an interview.

While humanitarian aid continues to flow to Afghanistan, funds needed for longer-term development were halted when the IEA seized control of the country in August 2021 as foreign forces withdrew.

Billions of U.S. dollars in Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen overseas and sanctions hamper the banking sector as the West pushes for concessions on human rights.

Western governments are particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls to work under IEArule.

Asked about the issue, Balkhi said Afghans’ right to life-saving funds should be the priority, adding that the international community handled concerns over human rights differently depending on the country involved.

“Is this rule universal? Because the United States just passed an anti-abortion law,” Balkhi said, referring to the Supreme Court’s overturning on Friday of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman’s right to an abortion.

“Sixteen countries in the world have taken away the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims … are they also facing sanctions because they are violating rights?,” he asked.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday the U.S. government was working on “complicated questions about the use of these (frozen central bank) funds to ensure they benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban (IEA).”

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