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US looks into having 3 Central Asian states take in at-risk Afghans

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2021)

The Biden administration is exploring having three Central Asian countries temporarily take in thousands of Afghans who worked with U.S. forces and face threats from the Taliban now that American troops are withdrawing after 20 years, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

They said Washington is in talks with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about letting in the at-risk Afghan citizens. Two of the sources were U.S. officials and all requested anonymity.

The three sources said an agreement did not appear imminent with any of the countries.

The decision to move at-risk Afghans risks inflaming a sense of crisis in Afghanistan, as fighting between U.S.-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban has surged in recent weeks, with the militants gaining control of large amounts of territory, Reuters reported.

Thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters face threats from the Taliban after working for two decades alongside the U.S. military.

The United States announced plans last week to seek refuge for thousands of vulnerable Afghans in countries outside Afghanistan so their U.S. visa applications could be processed from safety, but Washington did not specify where they would go.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki provided no further details on Friday, Reuters reported.

“One of the reasons that I’m not going to get into security details about what third country they might go to, and how many, is exactly for that reason, but certainly our timeline is to relocate these individuals to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown,” Psaki said.

President Joe Biden has said those who helped the United States will not be left behind, and on Thursday a senior Republican lawmaker said plans to evacuate at-risk Afghans will include their family members for a total of as many as 50,000 people.

“We are identifying a group of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who have served as interpreters and translators, as well as other at-risk categories who have assisted us. They will be relocated to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September, in order to complete the visa application process,” a senior administration official said.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Tajik and Uzbek counterparts. The State Department said in readouts of the meetings that Afghanistan was discussed but provided no further details.

Washington agreed to withdraw in a deal negotiated last year under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden rejected advice from military leaders to hang on until an agreement could be reached between the insurgents and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s U.S.-backed government.

Biden told Ghani in Washington last week the Afghans must decide their own future. Ghani said his job was now to “manage the consequences” of the U.S. withdrawal.

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Earthquake victims in Gayan district still in need of food and shelter

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Hundreds of survivors of this week’s earthquake, who lost family members and their homes, are still in desperate need of help.

Sayed Bakhta, one of the survivors said that he has lost four family members and two others are hospitalized, adding that survivors are dealing with a lack of food and no shelter.

“We have no shelter here now, we don’t have food, all the victims are sitting outside without having shelter,” he said.

A number of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) officials who have visited Gayan district of Paktika say that almost 90 percent of residential areas have been destroyed.

“Almost 90 percent of residences are destroyed; only a few them are suitable for living, most of them are uninhabitable,” said Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health.

In the meantime, rugged roads have hampered relief efforts as Gayan victims grapple with a humanitarian crisis, but military helicopter try to deliver aid to the victims.

“According to the order of the Prime Minister, a meeting was held and according to that meeting, the ministries and donor organizations were instructed to come to the earthquake site as soon as possible and use all their facilities to save the people,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management.

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121 children among those killed in Afghanistan earthquake: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

The United Nations children’s agency said on Friday 121 of those who were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan this week were children.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said as of late Thursday night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured.

The toll included 121 deaths and 67 injuries among the children, according to the official.

He said that Bermal district in Paktika province has the highest number of casualties and that several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” Ayoya said.

“UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component,” Ayoya said.
“UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.”

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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