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UN urges civilians protection, reduced violence ahead of intra-Afghan talks

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2022)

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urges parties to redouble efforts at protecting civilians from harm and de-escalating the conflict in order to save lives and create a conducive environment for the upcoming intra-Afghan talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar.  

The peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to start this month.

In a statement released on Thursday, the UNAMA said that it is particularly concerned by a recent spate of violent incidents in which members of Afghanistan’s civil society have been targeted.

“Deliberate attacks against religious leaders, healthcare workers, members of the judiciary, civil society activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and journalists are both shocking and criminal,” UNAMA said it seeks to the authorities to bring the perpetrators to account, emphasizing its determination to continue support to Afghanistan’s flourishing civil society sector.

“It’s taken enormous work and some brave decisions for Afghans to reach the point of being on the eve of unprecedented intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “I encourage parties to lay the necessary foundation for the talks by showing their commitment to peace through immediate and concrete actions to protect civilians and reduce violence.”

“There are spoilers who do not wish to see an end to war,” said Lyons, who is also head of UNAMA. “No matter what tactics they employ to de-rail the peace process, they cannot be allowed to succeed.”

In the first six months of 2020, preliminary figures indicate more than 800 civilians were killed and injured in deliberate attacks against civilians. UNAMA attributed responsibility for approximately half of these civilian casualties to the Taliban.

UNAMA remains particularly concerned by the deliberate targeting of religious leaders, with 18 incidents verified this year (six in June); healthcare personnel, with 13 incidents verified this year (two in June); judiciary members, with 11 incidents verified this year (three in June); civil society activists, with six incidents verified this year; NGOs, with five incidents verified this year (one in June); and journalists, with three incidents verified this year.

June incidents that require further verification include that of 22 June in Kabul, when armed men on a motorbike opened fire on a vehicle, killing all five passengers inside, including one prosecutor, working in the Bagram detention facility; and the 27 June incident also in the capital, when an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission staff member and driver were killed by an IED when they were traveling to work.

The United Nations reiterates that attacks deliberately targeting Afghanistan’s civilian population are serious violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes.

UNAMA draws attention to the continued harm to civilians from the use of indirect fire during ground engagements in civilian-populated areas that have caused roughly 25 percent of civilian casualties in the second quarter of 2020. On 29 June, in Sangin district, Helmand province, dozens of civilian casualties resulted from mortars fired by the Afghan National Army in response to Taliban fire when the mortars missed the intended target and landed in a busy marketplace, according to UNAMA’s preliminary findings.

“Verification of civilian harm remains ongoing and UNAMA will provide updated civilian casualty figures in its midyear protection of civilians report in July,” the organization said.

In addition, there has been a recent increase in civilian casualties from the Taliban’s use of pressure-plate IEDs; in the week following the Eid ceasefire, these victim-activated devices were the leading cause of civilian casualties.

The Mission’s continued call for an end to violence is also immediately linked to the need for all parties to provide the necessary focus and resources to combating the COVID-19 pandemic, a serious threat to everyone in Afghanistan.

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UN Security Council temporarily lifts travel ban on senior IEA official

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(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

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(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

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(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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