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UN chief tells donor community that one million Afghan children are on verge of death

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(Last Updated On: March 31, 2022)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday that nine million people in Afghanistan are at risk of famine and that about 95 percent of people in the country do not have enough food to eat.

Addressing delegates attending the UN’s high-level Pledging Event on Afghanistan, Guterres said the massive humanitarian response in Afghanistan since August 2021 “undoubtedly saved many lives over the winter”.

He thanked donor nations for their contributions but added that despite collective efforts, the already dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated alarmingly over the past few months.

He warned that UNICEF estimates that without immediate action, a million severely malnourished children are on the verge of death.

He also stated that as global food prices skyrocket, as a result of the war in Ukraine, “this spells catastrophe for both Afghans struggling to feed their families”, and for UN aid operations.

Without immediate action, we face a starvation and malnutrition crisis in Afghanistan, he said adding that people are already selling their children and their body parts, in order to feed their families.

Guterres noted that “Afghanistan’s economy has effectively collapsed” and that “there is very little cash”.

He went on to state that more than 80 percent of the population is in debt and that key workers in vital services, including schools and hospitals, have not been paid for months.

Listing the hardships faced by Afghans he went on to state that businesses cannot operate; international aid agencies can barely function; and local partners face even greater hurdles.

In addition, livelihoods have evaporated and farmers cannot buy seeds or fertilizers, he said.

“The UN Development Programme has warned that unless we take action, 97 percent of Afghans could be living below the poverty line by the middle of this year. Humanitarian needs have tripled since last June. Yes, tripled.
And they are growing, day by day and month by month,” he warned.

Guterres stated that the international community must find ways to spare the Afghan people from the impact of the decision to halt development support to Afghanistan, and to freeze nearly $9 billion in Afghan assets overseas.

He said the international community “must make cash available, so the Afghan economy can breathe, and the Afghan people can eat.

“Wealthy, powerful countries cannot ignore the consequences of their decisions on the most vulnerable.

“The first step in any meaningful humanitarian response must be to halt the death spiral of the Afghan economy.

“Without that, even the best-funded and most effective aid operation will not save the people of Afghanistan from an unimaginable future,” he warned.

“We stayed, we delivered, and we are determined to keep delivering. Humanitarian aid is providing a fragile lifeline for millions of Afghans,” he said.

Last year, UN humanitarian partners reached nearly 20 million people across the country with life-saving assistance including food, clean water, health care, protection, shelter, education and winterization.

So far this year, the World Food Programme has reached more than 14 million people with food, nutrition and resilience support.

In February alone, UNICEF reached close to four million people across the country with health services. UNICEF personnel screened nearly one million children for malnutrition in February alone and UNHCR, working in areas prioritized for the return of refugees and internally displaced people, has provided support to more than half a million people so far this year.

Guterres stated that UNFPA reached more than a quarter of a million people between August and December last year with reproductive health and protection services, while OCHA’s funding mechanisms, including the Central Emergency Response Fund and the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, were integral to getting funds quickly to where they were most needed.

“Our funding appeal for Afghanistan this year is $4.4 billon – the world’s largest appeal for a single country.

“Together with our partners, we aim to reach 22 million people with food, water, health care, protection, shelter, education and other forms of life-saving aid.

“So far, the appeal is currently less than 13 percent funded,” he said.

In line with this, Guterres appealed to the donor community to “provide unconditional and flexible funding as soon as possible”.

He also voiced his disappointment that high school girls have been barred from going to school.
“I deeply regret that girls’ education above sixth grade remains suspended – a violation of the equal rights of girls that damages the entire country and leaves girls more exposed to violence, poverty and exploitation.

“There is simply no justification for such discrimination.

“Educated girls become educated women who lift their families and communities into a better future.

“I call on those with influence to use it to pressure the de facto authorities to fulfil their promise to reopen schools for all students, without discrimination or further delay,” he stated.

However, he said that while waiting for girls to return to school, the world cannot use this issue as a bargaining tool. He said there is no rationale for withholding humanitarian aid based on this decision by the de facto authorities. “The Afghan people cannot be doubly punished,” he said.

In conclusion, he said: “In the weeks and months ahead, I count on coordinated action to find creative solutions to set the Afghan economy back on its feet.”

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Afghan students call on Muttaqi to help them return to India to complete their studies  

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2022)

Dozens of Afghan students met with the acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Amir Khan Muttaqi on Monday in Kabul and shared their concerns with him, the foreign ministry said. 

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, Deputy Spokesman and Assistant Director of Public Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said dozens of students attended the meeting and asked the acting foreign minister to help them return to India to resume studies that were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In his speech to the students, Muttaqi said they were an asset to the country and assured them that he would do his best to help them return to India to complete their studies.

“Mr. Muttaqi said that access to the problems of Afghan students is a priority and in this regard he will assign the relevant officials to share the demands of the students with the Indian Embassy and find solutions to the problems,” Ahmad tweeted.

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250 health care students graduate in Nimroz province 

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2022)

Almost 250 young men and women graduated from a private health care institute in Nimroz province after studying midwifery, nursing or pharmacy. 

The graduates all received their diplomas on Monday, and according to officials from the institute, the students could possibly be employed by Nimroz public health department. 

Officials said health care centers in the city and districts of Nimroz province need more staff.

“We had almost 250 graduates, most of whom are women, and we had graduates in seven departments, which included midwifery, nursing, pharmacy, dental and laboratory,” said Juma Khan Nisar, head of the health institute in Nimroz. 

Graduates meanwhile pointed out that health care centers and clinics in the province are seriously short-staffed and have requested that employment opportunities are made available for them. 

“Today, I am very happy that I received my diploma, and my request to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is to provide a work environment for us,” said Fatima, a graduate. 

The Directorate of Public Health of Nimroz said that in the current situation, educated youths could provide good services to the people.

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Two killed, 20 wounded in Herat shootings

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2022)

Two people were killed and 20 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire at two vehicles carrying civilian employees of the 207 Al-Farooq Army Corps in Herat on Monday, sources said.

The vehicles were on their way to the army corps headquarters when the shootings happened in the fourth and fifth districts of the provincial capital, also Herat.

A source in the 2017 Al-Farooq Army Corps said that the 20 injured in the shootings included two children and 18 employees of the corps.

According to police, one attacker was killed and two others fled following the incident.

Defense ministry’s spokesman also confirmed the death of two army personnel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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