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US unlikely to return Afghan helicopters parked in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan: Kirby

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2022)

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday the US government was still dealing with the issue of Afghan helicopters parked in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan but indicated the aircraft would not be returned to Afghanistan.

Addressing a press conference, Kirby said: “We’re still working out the — the disposition of — of those helicopters.

“I think it’s safe to assume that they will not be sent into Afghanistan to be at — to be used by the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan).

“But as to what they end up doing and where they end up going and who ends up with them, we are still working our way through that decision-making process,” he said.

This comes after Afghanistan’s ruling Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government last week asked Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to return Afghan Air Force planes and helicopters that were flown to neighboring countries by fleeing pilots in August last year.

IEA Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqoob said last week his government would never agree to the aircraft being seized or used by either of the two countries.

“I respectfully call on [Uzbekistan and Tajikistan] not to test our patience and not to force us to take all possible retaliatory steps [to retake the aircraft],” Yaqoob said without elaborating further.

US-trained Afghan air force pilots flew themselves and their families to Uzbekistan aboard more than 40 aircraft, including A-29 light attack planes and Black Hawk helicopters, at the time of the IEA takeover of the country on August 15.

Uzbek authorities reported in early September they had deported hundreds of Afghan pilots and their families for illegally flying into the county aboard military aircraft.

The Afghan citizens were reportedly transferred to a U.S. military base in the United Arab Emirates under an arrangement Washington negotiated with Uzbekistan to move more than 450 Afghans.

But the fate of the aircraft remains unclear. Before the fall of the government in August, Afghanistan had more than 164 active aircraft, a large number of which were flown out of the country. Only 81 were left behind, according to Afghan media reports.

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UN emphasizes the importance of aid for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the distribution of cash aid to the needy is very important during this year’s extremely harsh winter.

The spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Afghanistan Caroline Gluck says that in this cold winter, it is very important to distribute cash aid to the needy in Afghanistan.

Gluck, who visited Bamyan province recently, says that Afghanistan has faced one of the worst winters in many years and the needs of the people are very high.

She said the distribution of cash will help people sort out their needs during the cold weather.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that in 2023, the number of people in need in Afghanistan will reach more than 28 million.

Weather reports have put the minimum temperatures in a number of provinces across the country over the past three weeks at between minus 16 degrees Celsius and minus 30 degrees Celsius.

This record-cold winter has left well over 150 people and an estimated 200,000 livestock dead this month.

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UN deputy chief hopeful the IEA will lift restrictions on women

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

Amina Mohammad, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, has said that after meeting with some Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials she is hopeful that authorities could ease restrictions on women and girls.

In an interview with CNN, Mohammad, who visited Afghanistan earlier this month, was asked if she had any hope about IEA lifting restrictions on women and girls.

She replied: “Yes, I do. It was tough going in. But I feel now it is doable, looking at all the players and seeing some fissures within the Taliban (IEA), I think this is possible. We also had a few exceptions since then. So, yes there is hope.”

Amina said that there are differences of opinions within IEA in terms of carrying of edicts coming from Kandahar.

“I don’t think there is any change from their consolidation around that power base, but there is, in terms of carrying out some of these edicts, differences of opinions,” she said.

“I think in our visit, the recognition mattered. It was very clear that the humanitarian response that the international community was giving was really important. So we have some leverage and I think that is what we are trying to see, what is state of play in reality on ground,” Amina said.

Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, said that when she asked IEA officials about the “further notice” in their decrees, they replied: “We need to build infrastructure, we need to build schools, we need to train the teachers, we need to change the curriculum for it to become less Western or actually not Western at all but Islamic and according to Sharia of what they believe they should learn.

“They believe women should only learn certain things about the Sharia and how to serve their husbands, families and their little community where they live,” she said.

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IEA welcomes World Bank report, urges resumption of incomplete projects

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Saturday welcomed the World Bank’s report issued this week and in turn called on the institution to resume incomplete projects that it had been working on in the country prior to the collapse of the former government.

The Office of Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs said in a statement that it welcomes all the “positive points based on objective facts” in the report, which was a clear indication of Afghanistan’s actual economic development and mobility.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes that if the current restrictions on Afghanistan’s banking sector are lifted and the frozen assets are released, the economic situation of the country will take faster steps towards improvement and stability, and the burden on the international community will be lessened,” the statement read.

Earlier this week the World Bank reported that the price of food and fuel in Afghanistan has decreased, the value of the Afghan currency has remained stable against foreign currencies, there has been a significant increase in exports, and the salaries of government employees have been paid on time. In addition, the report noted that national revenues had also increased.

The IEA also called on all international organizations to raise awareness of the real situation in Afghanistan by pointing out the advancements made in Afghanistan, particularly in the economic sphere.

The statement called on international aid agencies and organizations to finance development initiatives in Afghanistan that will lower unemployment and improve the country’s economic situation.

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