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UNAMA chief delivers stark report to UN Security Council

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(Last Updated On: March 24, 2021)

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) chief Deborah Lyons sounded the alarm on Tuesday when she told the UN Security Council that soaring rates of violence continue to hamper humanitarian efforts in the country.

She said that six months into Afghanistan’s latest round of peace talks, progress remains slow and demands strong support from the global community.

“We always knew that this would be a complicated peace,” said Deborah Lyons, as she briefed the 15-member Council during a videoconference meeting.

Describing Tuesday’s meeting as a chance to take stock six months after the launch of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations, the signing of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban and a joint declaration between Kabul and Washington, D.C., she said attacks against civilians have only escalated.

The extreme violence is leading both Afghans and their international partners to voice understandable frustration. “The killings, the displacement, the suffering of the Afghan people must end now,” she stressed.

Noting that the first two months of 2021 saw a worrying spate of brutal attacks deliberately targeting civilians. She said the deaths of more than 80 Afghans — including media staff, civil society, members of the judiciary, religious scholars and government officials — have been recorded to date.

“This does not convey the full, crippling impact of the violence on Afghanistan’s civic life,” she said, adding that for every Afghan killed, many more leave their professions or plan to flee the country.

She also stated that ISIS-K (Daesh) claimed responsibility for 25 violent attacks in the last quarter, a steep increase, and she highlighted a deepening humanitarian crisis and the threat of drought. Food insecurity is at record levels, with more than 40 per cent of the population at emergency and crisis levels, she said..

Against that backdrop, she called on the international community to contribute generously to the humanitarian response plan, which is only six percent funded, while warning that money alone is not enough.

She also said humanitarian workers continue to be targeted by threats and violence, and the impartial delivery of aid is obstructed.

Emphasizing that such acts are illegal and unjustifiable, she recalled that she recently raised those issues with Taliban leaders and her office has been working with the Afghan government to ensure its legislative framework protects the space of non-governmental organizations carrying out humanitarian work.

She said all these developments are taking place against the backdrop of slowing progress in the peace talks in Doha. She said both sides need to continue to show their commitment to remaining at the negotiating table.

Welcoming the appointment of Jean Arnault of France as the Secretary-General’s new Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues, she said Member States have also played a vital role in coming up with new initiatives to reinvigorate the peace process.

Pointing to a proposed meeting in Turkey as another such opportunity, she stressed that such initiatives must be focused, coherent and, above all, they must reinforce rather than undermine the Doha negotiations.

According to Lyons, decades of conflict have created real grievances on all sides, as well as a deep lack of trust among the parties.

She also said there are genuine and profound differences between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban’s desired end State.

Addressing those issues will continue to require patience and commitment on both sides, she said, adding that any lasting peace settlement must consider the views and concerns of all Afghans and not just those of an elite few.

She said she hopes by her next briefing to the Security Council real progress would have been made.

Lyons stated that she hopes by June, there would have been at least a substantial de-escalation of violence, if not a ceasefire.

While those developments could mark a real turning point, the road ahead is still not clear and “we are moving into a period of great uncertainty, she said.

Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, also briefed the Council, stressing that the war in Afghanistan remains one of the world’s deadliest conflicts for civilians.

She said the onslaught of attacks has further diminished the country’s civic space, leading to self-censorship for journalists, human rights defenders and religious scholars, and thus impacting the quality of public engagement and debate on issues critical to Afghanistan’s present and future.

Akbar also stated that the country’s peace talks remain dominated by a group of elite men, some of whom have themselves been responsible for perpetuating violence.

“Building peace takes more than a deal among elites,” she said, calling for a more inclusive national endeavour that ensures the participation of women, minorities, youth, civil society and the vibrant Afghan media, as well as victims.

A minimum of 30 percent of the participants in the peace talks should be women, and more steps are needed to achieve full gender balance in the future, she said.

“At the recent conference in Moscow, I, like many Afghan women, was shocked and angered to see only one Afghan woman, Dr. Habiba Sarabi, in a room full of men discussing the future of my country,” she said.

Afghan women have fought for their human rights for many decades, and have made considerable progress in education, employment and political participation. They are experts everywhere, from the fields of politics to public administration, security, business, science and information technology.

Excluding or marginalizing them from the main discussions about the future of Afghanistan is not only unjust and unacceptable, but unwise and unhelpful to a lasting peace, she said.

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IEA representatives attend condolence meeting for Hamas leader’s sons

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2024)

Mohammad Naeem, charge d’affaires of Afghanistan embassy in Doha, and Sohail Shaheen, head of the political office of the Islamic Emirate in Doha, participated in the condolence meeting in memory of the sons and grandchildren of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday.

Three sons of Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Four of his grandchildren were also killed in the attack.

Following the incident, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi phoned Ismail Haniyeh, telling him that as a result of such sacrifices, Palestine will be freed from Israeli occupation.

He also expressed hope for the Palestinian people’s endurance, determination and patience.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October 7 have left 33,634 dead. More than 76,000 others have been injured.

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Afghanistan withdrawal probe sparks anxiety within Biden administration: US’s McCaul

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2024)

US Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, believes the probe into America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has sparked anxiety within the Biden administration.

“Are we going to get scalps? I don’t know, but are we going to hold people accountable? Yeah. And I think at the end of the day, my intent is to make sure that this never happens again,” McCaul told Axios in an interview.

US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee launched an investigation into America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan several months ago.

Democrats have slammed Republican investigations like the Biden impeachment inquiry as witch hunts. But Republicans argue the Afghanistan probe has yielded evidence that’s hard for the White House to ignore.

Meanwhile, Daily Mail has reported that hours of private testimony by two of the top State Department officials who oversaw the evacuation from Afghanistan lays bare the confusion at the heart of the operation, and how they failed to respond to warning signs that the Islamic Emirate was sweeping across the country.

Brian McKeon, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, until he stepped down in December 2022, admitted that officials were never able to confirm how many Americans were on the ground and would need help.

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Kidnapped child rescued in Herat

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2024)

Police have rescued a five-year-old girl kidnapped in Herat province, the Ministry of Interior said on Thursday.

Fahmia had been kidnapped nine days ago in the seventh district of Herat city, the ministry said on X.

She was rescued during a search operation, it added.

Two women have been arrested in connection with the case, according to the ministry.

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