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UN official appeals for greater int’l aid after visit to quake-hit region

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A top UN official in Afghanistan appealed on Sunday for greater international aid for the country, after he visited communities affected by last week’s devastating earthquake.

“Yesterday’s visit reaffirmed to me both the extreme suffering of people in Afghanistan and their tremendous resolve in the face of great adversity,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan.

The UN and its partners have developed a three-month emergency appeal, included within their humanitarian plan for Afghanistan this year, to respond to the catastrophe.

The goal is to scale up and expedite the delivery of humanitarian and resilience assistance to nearly 362,000 people in the two provinces, Paktika and Khost, that were most affected.

“Notwithstanding the phenomenal generosity that donors have already displayed to Afghanistan over these past tumultuous ten months, I urge the international community to dig deep at this time, as the population confronts yet another emergency, and to pledge support to these life-saving and life-sustaining efforts,” he said.

On Saturday, Alakbarov, accompanied by representatives from other UN agencies, travelled to the villages of Mir Sahib and Khanadin, located in Gayan district, Paktika province – one of the areas worst affected by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

More than 1,000 people are reported killed and another 2,000 injured in the earthquake in east Afghanistan. According to UN data, 235 people were killed and 600 others were injured in Gayan district alone.

The delegation met with residents, many of whom had lost family members and friends, including several orphaned and separated children, and whose homes are now uninhabitable.

“In addition to food assistance and emergency shelter and repair, interventions such as the restoration of damaged water pipes and cholera prevention and preparedness activities are absolutely vital, as are the restoration of communication lines, road access, and basic livelihoods,” said Alakbarov.

“Without such transitional support, women, men, and children will continue to endure unnecessary and unimaginable hardship,” he added.

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Afghan refugees in UK told to look for private accommodation

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

Afghan refugees who sought asylum in the UK after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over Afghanistan a year ago have been told to look for private accommodation as the government-funded accommodation scheme winds down.

In a letter sent to the Afghan refugees, the Home Office warned that not every council would accept their request for a place on the social housing list and has told them to use estate agent websites in the private sector, Anadolu News Agency reported.

“The use of hotels to house those resettling from Afghanistan is a temporary solution, and we continue to work with over 350 local authorities to move Afghan families from hotels to permanent accommodation as quickly as possible,” a statement from the Home Office said.

“To support the resettlement of Afghan families, local authorities are given £20,520 ($24,809) per person over a three-year period. They have the flexibility to use this funding to contribute towards renting accommodation, including deposits, letting fees and furnishing,” it added.

Although the government is still accommodating up to 9,500 Afghan refugees in hotels, with 7,000 rehoused, the Home Office is planning to wind down the use of hotels to house refugees, Anadolu reported.

Rights groups and charities, however, have voiced concerns over the lack of funding, guidance and assistance offered to the refugees and fear that many families will fall into homelessness as a result.

Afghan families and individuals, many of whom have only been in the UK for a year, will struggle to find accommodation. Due to language barriers which will prevent them from negotiating their rental agreements and the lack of necessary documentation, many fear that these families will fall through the system.

“Afghan families couldn’t have imagined that one year after arriving they’d still be warehoused in unsuitable accommodation, without space, privacy and stability. There is also a serious risk of homelessness for these families if suitable accommodation is not offered under the current Home Office plans,” said Eva Tabbasam, the director of Gender Action for Peace and Security.

“The government has had a year to sort things out – instead, it’s getting worse. If suitable accommodation was readily available for the 9,500 people still in hotels, families would already have been moved into it. We don’t yet know what kind of move on accommodation families will be offered,” she added.

The government’s plans to rehouse Afghan refugees include sending them to different parts of the country. However, as the majority are based in London and with children enrolled into school and family members at work, the scheme may prove difficult, Anadolu reported. .

Furthermore, councils have voiced concern over the lack of housing options for Afghan families with Claire Holland, London Councils’ executive member for communities, saying “boroughs are very concerned by the lack of alternative housing options for these families – a particular challenge in the capital due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing here.”

UK council housing lists are notoriously long with many having to wait up to a year to find a house fit for a large family. Additionally, although Afghan families have the right to rent, many landlords are reluctant to sign agreements with them due to a lack of necessary and sufficient documentation.

The plan to rehouse Afghan refugees in private accommodation comes on the one-year anniversary of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) rule.

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First anniversary of IEA takeover marked in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

Senior officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Monday gathered in Kabul to celebrate the first anniversary of IEA’s takeover of the capital.

The ceremony was attended by the administrative deputy prime minister, acting minister of foreign affairs, acting defense minister and other cabinet members.

“Some in the media call 24 Asad (15 August) a black day. It is certainly a black day for those who sold out the country and for those who were a tool for occupiers and for those who embezzled the national budget and for those who spend day and night in nightclubs and for those who usurped thousands of acres of land and for those who were involved in moral and administrative corruption,” Hanafi said.

Acting Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid also rejected reports that Badakhshan’s Wakhan had been handed over to Pakistan.

“Wakhan stands as the head of Afghanistan. As long as we have heads, Afghanistan’s head will be protected,” Mujahid said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, IEA’s spokesman and deputy minister of information and culture, said that IEA’s “amnesty door” is still open.

“If it is not utilized, you will take your goals to the grave. The people no longer want you. The US, with the bombardment of which you came and ruled the people, is no longer there,” Mujahid said.

IEA’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the IEA wants positive relations with the world.

“The international community should cooperate with the new government in Afghanistan and we all should utilize the opportunity to avoid a repeat of miseries that no one could stop in the past 40 years. All the prescriptions have failed here,” Muttaqi said.

Khairullah Khairkhwa, acting minister of information and culture, said: “We admit that more needs to be done. Our colleagues are working hard. We admit that we have not completed the tasks. But we need time.”

The first anniversary of IEA’s takeover is celebrated while it has not been recognized by the international community yet.

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One year after IEA takeover, Afghans hail security but worry about crippled economy

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

Afghans on Monday welcomed the improved security situation across the country, on the anniversary of the Islamic Emirate’s (IEA) take over, but raised concerns about the deteriorating economy, rising poverty levels, the high unemployment rate and newly imposed social restrictions.

One civil society activist in Herat province, Shakila Ahmadi said the IEA take over “had negative effects on people’s lives; schools were closed and girls were barred from going to school; there was human capital flight and university lecturers left the country.”

“There should be better moves so that women can return to work. Women should be allowed to work not only in the health sector, but also in other areas,” said Rafia Khatibi, an employee at Herat’s main hospital.

Syed Dawood, a Herat resident, urged IEA to form an inclusive government and allow women to work and get an education.

Despite restrictions on women, some businesswomen have however restarted operations in Herat.

Khalil-ur-Rahman Saqib, a resident of Badghis province, said: “Unfortunately, to be honest they have not performed well in the areas of development and education.”

In Balkh, people have different opinions about the performance of the IEA over the past year.

“The number of drug addicts was high in the city then, but now it has been reduced,” said Sayedullah, a resident of Balkh province.

Ebadullah, another resident of Balkh, complained of rising unemployment and urged IEA to create job opportunities.

Abdul Raouf Tawana, a religious cleric in Balkh, called on the IEA to make their government inclusive and try to gain public support and make the government sustainable.

Officials in Balkh said the security situation has improved after the IEA’s takeover.

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