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UN envoy optimistic about peace prospects in Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: June 26, 2020)

The UN’s top envoy in Afghanistan said the country now has a unique opportunity to turn the corner to a brighter, more stable future after four decades of war.

Deborah Lyons via a video conference told the Security Council on Thursday that even as an unprecedented global pandemic threatens to unravel many of the hard-won socio-economic gains Afghanistan has made over the years, there is now a moment of “emerging hope.”

The UN envoy, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said she is “cautiously optimistic” that the talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban negotiation teams will start in the next few weeks in Doha. 

“As the two sides embark on what will likely be a long and complex series of talks, I have encouraged them to show the necessary flexibility and foresight, the commitment to peace and, most importantly, compassion for their people that will be needed to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion,” she told the Security Council.

Lyons, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), described how the formal announcement of a three-day Eid ceasefire by the Taliban and the Government led to a welcome and much-needed reduction in violence. 

“A reduction in violence is essential to an environment conducive for peace talks and to pave the way for an eventual permanent ceasefire,” she stressed, telling the Security Council that the United Nations stands ready to support direct peace talks and noting that she has been in discussion with both sides to identify and address their needs, going forward.

The UN envoy described how she has engaged with partners from the region and beyond, and said she is confident that a constructive atmosphere for the peace process can be fostered. But at the same time as new opportunities for peace emerge, she said, COVID-19 is casting a shadow over daily life in Afghanistan.

“Under the leadership of the Afghan Government, the UN is supporting a coordinated response to fight this epidemic,” she said, pointing out how she is counting on the continued generosity of the international community to allow the United Nations to carry forward with the Afghan Government an essential response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to presenting an update on prospects for peace and the fight against COVID-19, Lyons highlighted developments in human rights and the humanitarian situation. She spoke about the harsh realities of life for many Afghans and the human cost of Afghanistan’s conflict, which continues to take a devastating toll on civilians, especially children.

In closing, Lyons stressed that COVID-19 is not just a health crisis. She called it a “multi-dimensional crisis impacting an already fragile country.” But by working together, she said, we can overcome COVID-19 and support Afghanistan at the beginning of its nascent peace process so that its people can finally achieve the lasting peace they deserve.

“The UN will continue to stand in partnership with the Afghan people through this time of unprecedented challenge and fragile hope,” she said. “The Afghan people will look to the guidance, to the support, and to the unity of this Council as they chart their way forward on their long road to peace.”

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UN Security Council temporarily lifts travel ban on senior IEA official



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The UN Security Council has lifted the travel ban on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, for a period of 10 days, so he can attend an event in Russia, officials in Afghanistan stated.

The UN Security Council failed to extend a travel ban exemption on Khairkhah along with other IEA officials two months ago.

This latest temporary travel ban exemption is said to have come into effect on December 1 and will run through until December 10, allowing Khairkhah to travel to Kazan, the capital of the Russian Federation’s Republic of Tatarstan.

Khairkhah was formerly imprisoned in Guantanamo and was released in 2014 in exchange for an American soldier.

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Migration to Germany to hit 1.2 million in 2022: report



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

More people will have sought refuge in Germany in 2022 than at the height of the European migrant crisis, Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday.

The newspaper said the country is on course to see 1.2 million new arrivals this year — a 35% increase from 2015 when 890,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing the Syrian war, came to the country.

This year’s tally was calculated from the more than a million Ukrainian refugees welcomed in Germany since Russia’s invasion unfolded in February and an expected 200,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year.

By the end of October, some 181,612 asylum applications were recorded, Welt am Sonntag reported, mostly from Syrian, Afghan, Turkish and Iraqi nationals.

Municipalities face resource squeeze

German municipalities are reported to have reached their limit in processing such a large number of new arrivals, sparking concern from politicians like Armin Schuster, the interior minister for the eastern state of Saxony.

“We are approaching 200,000 asylum seekers this year. In the last legislature, this number was defined as the upper limit,” Schuster told the paper. While he said his state continues to “stand up for Ukraine, no ifs or buts,” any free capacity will soon be exhausted.

German MEP Manfred Weber warned of a “dramatic winter of refuge,” referring to an expected increase in migrant and refugee arrivals during the winter months.

Some analysts have warned that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians could flee the country as Russian forces continue to target the country’s energy infrastructure, sparking widespread power cuts during the winter cold.

“Germany is currently sleepwalking into a new migration crisis,” Weber warned, noting a similar pressure on authorities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

Last month, the EU refugee agency said asylum applications had reached a new post-2015 high.

The government said it was supporting states and municipalities with €3.5 billion ($3.69 billion) this year, with another €2.75 billion earmarked for 2023, and has provided more than 67,000 spaces for accommodation.

Schuster said Germany’s migration policy needed more than just “warm words” and called for “a noticeable braking effect on asylum access via the East Mediterranean route,” referring to how many migrants arrive in EU territory via Turkey and Greece.

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Anas Haqqani and Yaqoob Mujahid meet Afghans in UAE



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) defense minister Mawlavi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, at the Al Shati Royal Palace in Abu Dhabi, on Sunday.

According to the ministry the two dignitaries discussed issues of mutual interest.

Mujahid, along with Anas Haqqani, also met with Afghans living in the UAE where he asked them to return home.

In a meeting with the Afghans, he said that he would speak with senior UAE officials about improving ties between the two countries and on resolving challenges the Afghans face.

“We will meet with the relevant officials if there is a visa problem, an issue with flights, or problems with prisoners. Even if there are problems inside Afghanistan, for example, passport problems or other problems, I will try to deal with these cases to the best of my ability without delay,” the defense minister said.

“We must remove discrimination from our minds. In the minds of the new generation, we must remember that all ethnic groups are citizens of Afghanistan and have rights in Afghanistan,” he also told Afghans at the meeting.

According to Mujahid, Afghanistan is the home of all Afghans, and that: ”Afghans should invest in their country and we should all contribute to the country’s prosperity, and development.”

Meanwhile, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), who is also in the UAE, told Afghans living in Dubai that the purpose of the IEA’s visit was to address their problems.

“The Islamic Emirate is working on long-term plans, ” he said, adding “with the grace and support of Allah, we are building Afghanistan.”

According to him, Afghanistan has just emerged from war and now there is security in the country.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate said that the delegation will meet with the leadership of the UAE to discuss a range of issues.

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