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UNICEF concerned over report of aid group ban from Afghan education



(Last Updated On: June 9, 2023)

The U.N. children’s agency said on Thursday it was following up with Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate officials over whether international organizations would be excluded from education projects, which could affect hundreds of thousands of students, Reuters reported.

“UNICEF is deeply concerned by reports that over 500,000 children, including over 300,000 girls, could lose out on quality learning through community-based education within a month if international non-governmental organizations working in the field of education are no longer allowed to operate,” said UNICEF’s Afghanistan spokesperson, Samantha Mort.

The agency was seeking clarification, she said.

Spokespeople for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Islamic Emirate that took power in 2021 has closed most secondary schools to girls, stopped female students attending universities and stopped many Afghan women working for aid groups and the United Nations.

However, international organizations, including the U.N., have been heavily involved in education projects, including community-based classes, often held in homes in rural areas.

Two humanitarian aid sources said that in recent days humanitarian agencies had heard that provincial authorities had been directed to stop the involvement of international organizations in education projects.

The Islamic Emirate had not confirmed any orders to aid agencies seeking clarity.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “If this would come to pass, this would be another horrendous step backwards for the people of Afghanistan.”

“We’ve not gotten anything official, anything in writing,” he said, adding that the U.N. message to the Taliban [IEA] administration was that “every person has a right to an education.”

The U.N. estimates that 8.7 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian aid for education this year and it was planning to reach about 3 million people under a humanitarian package for the year, which was revised this week to reflect lower funding.

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Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation falls by 85% under IEA rule



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reportedly dropped by 85% following the return to power of the Islamic Emirate, new analysis shows.

In April last year, the IEA’s supreme leader issued a decree prohibiting poppy farming across the country. Almost 18 months later, the ban is being described by experts as “the most successful counter-narcotics effort in human history”.

Nationwide poppy cultivation is below 30,000 hectares for 2023, compared to more than 210,000 hectares in 2022, according to satellite imagery analysis from Alcis, a geographic information services company, the UK-based Telegraph reported.

Helmand, Farah and Nimroz have recorded the greatest reductions in cultivation, at 99, 95 and 91 percent respectively, Alcis said.

“There is now little doubt that farmers across vast swathes of the country abandoned opium production this year,” the analysis said.

After a year-long ban, experts are waiting to see if the IEA’s edict will last for a second season, which starts each November with the planting of poppy seeds.

“We are in uncharted waters,” said Dr David Mansfield, a UK expert on illicit economies in Afghanistan, in comments that accompanied Alcis’ analysis, the Telegraph reported.

Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan expert at Crisis Group, told the Telegraph in July that the IEA’s crackdown has so far been “the most successful counter-narcotics effort in human history, according to the volume of drugs taken off the market”.

However, Mansfield said there “is already considerable evidence that the current ban has not been uniformly accepted by the rural population or by those within the Taliban’s own ranks responsible for implementing it.”

Alcis’ analysis shows that poppy cultivation increased from 13,803 hectares to 15,391 hectares in the mountainous Badakhshan province throughout 2023. It said there has also been “persistent cultivation in the upper reaches of the mountains of southern Nangarhar”.

“When the economic impact of a ban on poppy cultivation is felt collectively across a growing population, local resistance can quickly escalate, prompting those in the districts responsible for enforcement to retreat, unwilling to impose further losses on their own families, neighbours, and communities,” said Mansfield.

It’s estimated the Taliban’s poppy ban has wiped out the equivalent of 450,000 full-time jobs in agriculture – a major hit to an economy still reeling from drought, conflict and cuts to development programmes.

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Commerce and industry ministry suspends all expos in Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement Tuesday that while no restrictions have been imposed on women participating at expos, they have suspended all trade shows until a new operating procedure has been finalized.

“In order to better regulate the holding of expos and provide the necessary facilities for holding domestic and foreign exhibitions, it is necessary to make a series of adjustments in the procedure for holding domestic and foreign expos,” read the statement.

Abdulsalam Jawad Akhundzadah, a spokesman for the MoIC, also said that expos have been stopped pending new regulations.

He said that a seven-day women’s expo will be held in the near future in Kabul.

“Soon, a women’s expo will be held in Kabul where about 800 entrepreneurial women from 34 provinces will participate for seven days,” said Akhundzadah.

Meanwhile, the private sector says if the suspension of holding expos continues, it will harm the country’s trade and investment process, and that the purchase of domestic products will be impacted.

Sakhi Ahmad Payman, deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mines said the holding of expos was done haphazardly and he hoped that in future these events would be organized under the umbrella of the commerce and industry ministry.

A number of economic experts also said that in order for expos to have positive effects, they should be held based on principles and procedures.

“A specific mechanism should be put in place to hold expos in order to avoid abuses and opportunists in this area,” said Shabir Bashiri, an economic analyst.

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Deputy foreign minister meets UNAMA head



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of UNAMA, Roza Otunbayeva, met with the Political Deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, the ministry said.

According to the ministry during the meeting, Stanakzai requested international assistance in the areas of regional coordination, the fight against drugs, and ways to revitalize the business and banking sector.

The Political Deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said despite the difference of opinion in some areas, there is a need to work together on common issues and give Afghanistan the right to participate in various international forums, including the United Nations.

He also said that humanitarian affairs should be kept separate from politics and political differences should not be allowed to hinder interaction in humanitarian aid, drug fight, mine clearance and other areas.

Meanwhile, Roza Otunbayeva shared information about her recent visit to the United Nations and added that they are trying to fight against drugs, treat drug addicts, and promote legal crops in addition to making efforts around food security and are attempting to attract international aid.

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