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UN agency warns of ‘imminent’ famine in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2021)

Afghanistan is at risk of “imminent hunger” with winter approaching and services disrupted by the return to power of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), a UN official warned in an interview with AFP.

Natalia Kanem, director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said via video that the situation in the country was dire.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say” that at least a third of Afghanistan’s population of around 33 million is affected by “imminent hunger,” Kanem warned.

Harsh winters, disrupting the ability to transport supplies to isolated areas of the mountainous country, plus the coronavirus pandemic will aggravate an already complicated situation, she added.

“There is a lot of anxiety over how we’re going to deliver health care, where the next meal is going to come from,” Kanem said.

She also warned that women and girls would bear the worst of it.

“It is urgent, for women and girls in particular who were already suffering. This is one of the countries with the highest death during childbirth and pregnancy rates.

“We cannot underscore enough that even during a transitional period, women and girls have human rights and these are to be respected,” she said.

Kanem repeated calls made by the international community to the IEA and said: “The women of Afghanistan have made clear over years that they want their education, they want their health care, and that they’re also ready, willing and able to design programs and to be able to lead in their communities,” she said.

IEA leaders have assured the international community that they are more moderate than when they ruled previously.

They have promised to change, saying they will respect women’s rights within the framework of Sharia law.

Kanem pointed out that in a country ravaged by decades of conflict, many women, particularly in areas most affected by violence, are the sole breadwinners.

“We’re all anxiously hoping that there will be regularity and ability of delivery of goods” to people in small communities where many of the UNPFA’s staff are women, she said.

“We have said that we want to be able to maintain a functioning health system.

“(It’s) pretty challenging right now with the airport having been closed, with certain professionals who have left the country,” Kanem added.

She warned that if the health system breaks down, that’s going to spell “complete disaster,” but added that for the most part the agency’s family health centers have remained open.

The UN on Wednesday released $45 million in emergency aid to support Afghanistan’s health system.

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China calls on US to release Afghanistan’s assets

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said Friday the freezing of $7 billion of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves has caused the economic crisis in Afghanistan to intensify, and that Beijing sees the continued blocking of these assets as “unjustifiable”.

“The freezing of seven billion dollars in assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan has played a negative role in aggravating the economic crisis in this country and the US government must release these assets of the Afghan people and there is no justification for the continued blocking of Afghanistan’s assets,” said Wang.

China and Russia, the two fierce rivals of the US, have reacted to the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets several times since the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan (IEA) took power. The two countries have also called for the release of the foreign reserves on a number of occasions.

“United States is the political and economic opponent of China, and the Chinese make moves against the US from any source,” said Sayed Massoud, a university professor.

After the IEA swept to power in August last year, the US froze almost $10 billion dollars of the country’s foreign reserves.

US President Joe Biden, signed an order on February 11, 2021, that half of the reserves be allocated to the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He instructed that the balance be used for humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan.

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IEA urges India to complete unfinished projects in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

The foreign ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on India to complete its unfinished developmental projects in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued on Saturday, the IEA also called on India to embark on other “vital projects,” in Afghanistan.

The statement was issued after India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said Friday a team of diplomats, excluding the ambassador, had gone to Afghanistan to address issues such as humanitarian assistance, vaccine campaigns and development projects in the country.

“We have taken a very considered deliberated view that our relationship at the end of the day is with the people of Afghanistan, to the society and that it is a relationship which is deep enough and in a sense, historically long enough for us to actually find ways of factoring in these political changes and continuing that people-to-people, so like a relationship,” Jaishankar told reporters.

IEA’s foreign ministry said it welcomed India’s move to step up diplomatic presence at its embassy in Kabul, and reiterated security assurances.

The ministry expressed hope that relations between India and Afghanistan would expand further.

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Thirteen people killed in flash floods in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Thirteen people including women and children have been killed in flash floods caused by heavy rains over the past two days in Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.

Sharafuddin Muslim, the deputy state minister for disaster management, said that the floods happened in Khost, Paktia, Logar, Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Parwan and Kapisa provinces.

According to the official, 13 people including four women and five children were killed and two others went missing following the floods.

Muslim said that hundreds of homes were damaged. Some roads connecting villages with the district centers were also blocked.

Responding to the disaster, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is distributing 100,000 afghanis to each family affected, he said.

Other basic items are also being delivered, he said.

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