The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$12 million from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance in support of WFP’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s public health emergency has been compounded by increasing levels of food insecurity and many communities’ livelihoods are being obliterated due to the ongoing pandemic.
According to the WFP, this contribution from USAID will allow them to provide 95,000 families affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 with direct cash-transfers.
Each family will receive AFN6,000 (US$79) through cash based transfers to partially cover their food needs for two months.
“COVID-19 has disrupted the livelihoods of families across the country relying on day labour, small trade or remittances, most of all in the cities where the lockdowns have left them without opportunities to earn money to buy their next meal,” said Peter Natiello, Mission Director for USAID Afghanistan.
“Through our partnership with WFP, USAID will help reach some of the most vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in Afghanistan with food assistance.”
Vulnerable families in Herat City and the capital Kabul, the two urban centres of the country with the highest number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 and where the impact of the pandemic on the economy and individual livelihoods is being felt the most, will receive the assistance.
The assistance will help keep these most vulnerable urban families from being forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, child labour or eating fewer and smaller meals.
“We’re grateful for this generous contribution from USAID and the continued support for WFP in Afghanistan,” said WFP Afghanistan Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge Robert Kasca.
“This contribution comes at critical times when we are facing additional needs of US$53 million due to COVID-19. Without concerted action, Afghanistan could face its most devastating food security crisis in decades.”
At the outset of 2020, more than 12 million people were already facing acute food insecurity due to decades of conflict, natural disasters and growing poverty, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Analysis.
Now, COVID-19 leaves millions of Afghans at risk of falling into hunger, faced with unusually high food prices and reduced employment opportunities.
With the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic, WFP is further providing services in health centres and through mobile teams to prevent and treat malnutrition in girls, boys and pregnant and lactating women.
Under strict precautions to quell the spread of the coronavirus, WFP is continuing asset creation activities that help food-insecure families cover their food needs and build the resilience of their communities.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 in Afghanistan, WFP is working to reach 3 million people more than initially planned, creating additional funding needs of US$53 million.
In total, WFP plans to reach 10.3 million food-insecure people in 2020.
Funding requirements from July to December 2020 for all of WFP’s activities in Afghanistan are US$218 million, of which US$135 million remain to be resourced.
This latest contribution from USAID follows contributions of US$49 million in 2020 and US$92 million in 2019.
Elon Musk begins Twitter poll on reinstating Trump’s account
Twitter owner Elon Musk launched a poll Friday on the social media platform asking if former US President Donald Trump should be allowed back on the platform.
“Reinstate former President Trump,” Musk wrote in a post which garnered more than 4.4 million impressions at the time of publication, Anadolu Agency reported.
More than 55% of users voted “yes,” while 44% said “no.”
Hours earlier, the American billionaire implied that he was mulling whether to reinstate Trump’s Twitter account.
“Trump decision has not yet been made,” tweeted Musk, as he announced three high-profile reinstatements of accounts that were banned by the social media giant.
“Kathie Griffin, Jorden Peterson & Babylon Bee have been reinstated,” said Musk.
Trump had about 88.8 million followers when Twitter permanently suspended the former US president’s account in January 2021, citing his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol and the potential for more violence.
Musk had forecast a Trump return in May when he called the expulsion “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”
IEA says it has eradicated war and corruption in Afghanistan
The Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, said at a meeting on Wednesday with officials from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that the Islamic Emirate has been able to eliminate war and administrative corruption in the country and pave the ground for progress and development.
He said that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has created an aid fund for Afghanistan and they will help Afghanistan in health, education, and other fields in addition to humanitarian aid.
An OIC official meanwhile said it will stand by Afghanistan and we will continue its cooperation with Afghanistan in the areas of prosperity, stability, and development.
The Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, meanwhile welcomed the delegation of the OIC, and said, “You will see the real facts and the efforts of the Islamic Emirate in various sectors.”
He said that the Islamic Emirate has been able to eliminate war, insecurity, murder, destruction, and corruption in the country.
In conclusion, the IEA will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan soil against other countries, he said.
Explosion in busy Istanbul street leaves at least 4 dead
An explosion on Istanbul’s popular pedestrian Istiklal Avenue on Sunday afternoon has left at least four people dead and a number of people injured, a senior official told Associated Press.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya tweeted that the explosion occurred at about 4:20 p.m. Istanbul time and that there were deaths and injuries, but he did not say how many. The cause of the explosion was not clear.
Al Jazeera also reported at least four people were killed and 38 others injured.
However, according to the Associated Press, Turkey’s media watchdog imposed a temporary media ban on reporting of the explosion, which means broadcasters cannot show videos of the moment of the blast or its aftermath.
The Supreme Board of Radio and Television has imposed similar bans in the past, following attacks, accidents and some political issues.
Footage on social media showed ambulances, fire trucks and police at the scene. Social media users said shops were shuttered and the avenue closed down.
Broadcaster CNN Turk meanwhile reported 11 people were injured.
The avenue is a crowded thoroughfare popular with tourists and locals, lined by shops and restaurants.
Turkey was hit by a string of deadly bombings between 2015 and 2017 by ISIS (Daesh) and outlawed Kurdish groups.
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