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Two former Guantanamo prisoners return to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 12, 2024)

Abdul Karim and Abdul Zahir Saber, who have been living in Oman since being released from Guantanamo Bay in 2017, arrived in Kabul on Monday morning, the ministry of interior said.

According to a statement issued by Abdul Matin Qani, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Zahir and Karim were imprisoned in Guantanamo in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

Both were released from Guantanamo in 2017 and sent to Oman where they were held under house arrest. In this time they have not been able to leave the country.

One Afghan prisoner remains in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Muhammad Rahim, whose family in November called for his release.

The US government has for years said it is working to reduce the number of detainees and eventually shut down Guantanamo Bay, which lies on the island of Cuba but is under US jurisdiction.

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UN reports $402.9 million needed for Herat earthquake recovery support

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(Last Updated On: February 22, 2024)

The United Nations said in a report released Thursday that $402.9 million is needed to support critical recovery and reconstruction efforts in Herat province following last year’s devastating earthquakes.

According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, issued by the UN, the World Bank, the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank, the scale of October’s was staggering.

Housing, the most severely affected sector, represents 41 percent ($164.4 million) of the total recovery needs.

The earthquakes damaged 49,578 houses, with 13,516 being completely destroyed.

Education is second most impacted sector, with 180,000 students and 4,390 teachers currently facing disruptions. The agriculture sector, accounting for the majority of jobs and income in the affected areas, has also suffered considerable setbacks.

The series of earthquakes on October 7, 11, and 15 killed over 1,500 people and injured more than 2,600 people.

The assessment, with UNDP as the technical lead, covered nine districts with roughly 2.2 million people.

It revealed that over 275,000 individuals were affected. Among these were 17,358 pregnant women, 17,146 infants, 3,976 people with severe disabilities, 3,207 elderly families, 6,806 women-led households, 3,176 individuals with chronic illnesses, and 147,000 children under 18.

Herat, Injil, and Zindajan districts were the hardest hit, with rural and vulnerable communities suffering the most.

The assessment also evaluated broader macro-economic and human impacts and proposed principles for a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction framework.

It cautioned about persistent widespread poverty, slow economic recovery, job scarcity, banking sector instability, adverse impact on mental health and wellbeing, and climate vulnerability, exacerbating Afghanistan’s ongoing economic challenges.

Way forward

The PDNA emphasizes the critical need to transition from immediate humanitarian aid to long-term recovery.

Recovery strategies should prioritize building community resilience, service restoration, earthquake-safe housing, livelihood options, social protection, and access to basic services, especially for the most affected families, the report stated.

“As the United Nations and partners, we stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in these challenging times. The findings of the PDNA highlight the profound impacts of the earthquakes on the Herat region.

“We are committed to not only addressing the immediate needs but ensuring a sustainable and resilient recovery for those affected by the earthquakes. This tragedy presents an opportunity to rebuild stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient communities. The PDNA provides a blueprint for recovery and reconstruction aimed at forging a better future for those most affected in Afghanistan,” stated Indrika Ratwatte, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

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Two convicts scheduled for public execution in Ghazni province

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(Last Updated On: February 22, 2024)

The Directorate of Information and Culture of the Islamic Emirate in Ghazni province said in a statement that two convicted prisoners have been given the “retribution order” and will be publicly executed.

The announcement states that the two people will be executed at the football stadium of Ali Lala village in Ghazni city at around 09:00 on Thursday morning.

Based on this announcement, these two verdicts will be implemented in Ghazni city after the decision of three courts and approval by the leader of the Islamic Emirate, the statement read.

This directorate has asked the residents of Ghazni to make their way to the stadium and watch the execution.

People have been asked not to bring cameras and mobile phones with them.

The statement did not say how the convicts would be executed nor did they give the gender or other details about the convicts.

The Supreme Court of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan imposed a sentence of ‘divine retribution’ on two convicted murderers in Ghazni province Thursday morning. Both were executed in public.

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Azizi says investing in Afghanistan made easy for Iranians

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(Last Updated On: February 21, 2024)

The Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Nooruddin Azizi said in a meeting with an Iranian delegation, led by the Deputy Coordinator of Economic Affairs of Razavi in Khorasan province, that Iranians can invest in Afghanistan “as if they were Afghans”.

Azizi said the paperwork needed for Iranians has been simplified and that traders can now pursue opportunities as they wish.

MoIC spokesman Abdul Salam Jawad Akhundzada quoted Azizi as saying: “The Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan asked the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran that now the process of documents is easier than in the past and they can invest like an Afghan and use this opportunity the way they want.”

Abolfazl Chamandi, deputy economic affairs coordinator of Razavi, said that they were ready for joint investments in various sectors with Afghanistan and that relations between the two countries were strengthening.

“We are ready to provide information on the progress of the activities regarding the agreements that were made between the two countries during the recent visit of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the economic deputy of the prime minister, and we are moving to implement the agreements step by step,” Chamandi said.

Meanwhile, some experts said that due to security and stability in Afghanistan, investors from neighboring countries, especially Iran, can invest in Afghanistan and Tehran can expand its business relations with Kabul.

Currently, Iran is considered Afghanistan’s largest trading partner, and once Afghan traders start using Chabahar port more, trade relations between the two countries will strengthen.

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