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UN Security Council hears how IEA bans on women are ‘obscuring’ positive achievements

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The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva said on Wednesday that the bans affecting women and girls in the country were “obscuring” some of the other more positive achievements that have taken place under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

She said UNAMA continues to face a “complicated situation in Afghanistan,” and that restrictions against Afghan women working for the United Nations places a question mark over the organization’s activities across the country.

Briefing the UN Security Council, Otunbayeva said: “We have been given no explanations by the de facto authorities for this ban and no assurances that it will be lifted.”

She stated UNAMA will not put their national female staff in danger, and therefore have stopped them from reporting to work since the ban was imposed in April. All male national staff performing non-essential tasks are also still at home.

Otunbayeva went on to say, the UN in Afghanistan is “steadfast” over their decision that “female national staff will not be replaced by male national staff as some de facto authorities have suggested.”

She said: “The Taliban (Islamic Emirate) ask to be recognized by the United Nations and its members, but at the same time they act against the key values expressed in the United Nations Charter.”

On positive changes identified, she said: “One of these is the growing evidence that the Taliban’s ban on opium cultivation, announced in April last year, has been effectively enforced in many parts of the country. According to initial media reports, cultivation of opium has significantly decreased.”

She added however that at the same time, the opium economy has helped sustain parts of the rural economy in Afghanistan. “Donors should consider allocating funding to alternative livelihood programmes that address the specific needs of farmers affected by the ban,” she said.

Otunbayeva also pointed out that the Afghan economy remains stable, albeit at a low equilibrium and that according to the World,
inflation is declining and the exchange rate remains steady.

“In part this is due to the welcome reduction of high-level corruption. The de facto authorities continue to report the collection of sufficient revenues to finance government operations, including paying civil service salaries,” she said.

However, this macro-economic stability, coexists with severe household poverty. She said 58 percent of households struggle to satisfy basic needs and that humanitarian efforts continue to address the needs of the nearly 20 million people.

She warned that given the drop in donor funding, United Nations cash shipments, required for humanitarian operations, are expected to decrease.

She went on to say that the IEA is making concerted counter-terrorism efforts, particularly with Daesh. Despite this, attacks have taken place, she said.

Otunbayeva also stated that while the end of the armed conflict has greatly reduced the number of civilian casualties since the IEA came to power, the United Nations Mine Action Service in Afghanistan estimates around 100 casualties per month from unexploded ordnance.

According to her, UNAMA is “greatly concerned by Afghanistan’s vulnerability to climate change. Years of drought have compounded the effects of conflict and poverty. Climate change is fostering population displacements inside Afghanistan that could be destabilizing,” she said adding that in order to address Afghanistan’s lack of water and consequent food insecurity, the IEA has begun digging a canal that will divert waters from the northern Amu Darya river, raising the concerns of neighboring countries.

“Overall the need to mitigate the effects of climate change requires a more specific dialogue between the de facto authorities and the international community,” she said.

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UNSC’s ceasefire resolution an ‘initial step’ to ending Palestinian ‘genocide’: IEA

The IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” and supports the historic right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state.

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Deputy spokesperson for the foreign ministry Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal says the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the adoption of this week’s resolution by the United Nations Security Council aimed at ending the war in Gaza as an initial step to end the genocide of the people in Gaza.

Takal said in a statement on Wednesday that it requires realistic negotiation to lead to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, ensuring a normal life for its people.

IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” – IEA foreign ministry

He stated that the IEA condemns the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime” and supports the historic right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state.

Ceasefire resolution

The UN Security Council on Monday overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The US-sponsored resolution welcomes a cease-fire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the United States says Israel has accepted.

It calls on the militant Palestinian group Hamas to accept the three-phase plan.

The resolution — which was approved with 14 of the 15 Security Council members voting in favor and Russia abstaining — calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Whether Israel and Hamas agree to go forward with the plan remains in question, but the resolution’s strong support in the UN’s most powerful body puts added pressure on both parties to approve the proposal.

Netanyahu has been skeptical of the deal, saying that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

 

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AWCC opens new customer services center in Parun, Nuristan

Nuristan residents have welcomed the opening of AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services in the province

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Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) has officially opened a new customer services center in Parun city, the capital of Nuristan province.

AWCC officials said at the launch of the new center that customers experiencing problems with AWCC can now visit the facility for assistance – for both mobile phone and internet services.

Attaullah Sahil, head of AWCC in the eastern zone, said that telecommunication facilities will also now be increased for residents of Parun city.

Local officials, meanwhile, stated that in most areas of Nuristan, people do not have access to telecommunication and internet services and that they are trying to expand such services in the province.

“We are happy that Afghan Wireless opened its customer service office in Paron city,” said Khalid Fateh, the local director of the telecommunication and information department.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless” – Nuristan resident

“We request that Afghan Wireless activate its sales offices in every district of Nuristan,” Fateh added.

Officials also said that security of telecommunication infrastructure in the province is secure enough for companies to expand their networks.

Nuristan residents have meanwhile welcomed the opening of the AWCC’s new customer services center and the expansion of telecommunication and internet services.

They have however called for the cost of the services to be reduced.

“Many thanks to Afghan Wireless for building this big office,” a resident said.

“No other network works in Nuristan except Afghan Wireless. We want more conveniences,” said another resident.

Making a difference

AWCC was recognised as Afghanistan’s Telecom Company of the Year at the 2024 Asian Telecom Awards earlier this year.

This award reflects the company’s market leadership in Afghanistan, with more than five million subscribers, the country’s largest 4G LTE network and a growing high-speed, nationwide fiber network.

In the last year, AWCC has increased its active customer base by more than 10%, primarily driven by increased data users attracted by the company’s pioneering digital-first products and services, including its innovative ASAN mobile application.

To meet this rapidly growing data demand across the country, AWCC upgraded and expanded its market-leading mobile network by almost 15%, adding nearly 200 sites to reach even more rural and remote regions.

In parallel, the company inaugurated its Kabul-Mazar-Hairaton fiber route, connecting Central Asia to South Asia and placing Afghanistan at the center of the region’s digital connectivity hub.

AWCC also ramped up its efforts to help Afghanistan and its people in the past year by utilizing its technology to deliver critical support to tackle several humanitarian challenges.

The company mobilized swiftly to provide emergency connectivity, financial, logistics and humanitarian assistance following a series of severe earthquakes in Herat, and ongoing communications support for the influx of returnees at Afghanistan’s borders, through the set-up of temporary mobile sites and distribution of free SIM cards.

Asian Telecom Awards honors businesses and initiatives like AWCC that have not only driven progress in the telecom industry but have also ignited transformative shifts that have reshaped the digital landscape.

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Iran Air starts flights to Kabul

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The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said Wednesday that Iran Air International Airlines has launched direct flights to Kabul for the first time.

The ministry said in a statement that Iran Air will have flights to Kabul once a week.

According to the statement, Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air, Mahan, Kish, and Yazd Airlines also have flights to Iran.

Earlier, Turkish Airlines also resumed its flights to Kabul.

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