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Watchdog urges unconditional support to protect Afghan women



(Last Updated On: May 19, 2021)

While donor countries to Afghanistan say they want to keep protecting the human rights of women and girls, a bill introduced in the United States Senate last week raises issues about how requiring the Afghan government to respect rights could potentially lead to cuts in funding for essential services for women and girls.

In an article by Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch Interim Co-Director, Women’s Rights Division, she stated the Protect Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Afghanistan Act would require the US Secretary of State to report twice yearly to Congress on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

It would continue US support to “preserve the rights” of Afghan women but warns that the US will “refuse to provide economic aid to an Afghan government” that violates these rights, Barr stated.

According to her, the bill follows a November 2020 joint statement by Afghanistan’s main donors, including the US, that laid out the “key elements” that would be taken into account when considering whether to continue their current development and budgetary support to the country.

Among those elements was respect for women’s rights.

Efforts to hold this and any future Afghan government to account are vital, she stated. The Afghan government has a poor track record on women’s rights, including failing to investigate and provide accountability for violence against women, she said.

The Taliban, which controls large parts of the country and could gain a role in the government through a peace deal or military success, retains many of their deeply abusive pre-2001 policies toward women and girls, Barr stated.

But donors should consider how they can respond to government abuses without harming women and girls by cutting essential services.

Over 75 percent of the Afghan government’s budget comes from international donors. Cuts in donor funding to Afghanistan have already damaged women’s access to health care and could imperil girls’ access to education, she said.

Barr stated that with the withdrawal of international troops, donor countries may be eager to cut their support to Afghanistan; punishing the government for rights violations could be a convenient excuse.

But defunding the government should not mean defunding services, she stated.

Nongovernmental organizations in Afghanistan have proved they can deliver vital services despite the country’s escalating insecurity, so long as they have sufficient resources.

Countries pulling troops from Afghanistan should make it clear that they will continue to support – and fund – Afghan women and girls, whether or not they can work with the Afghan government, Barr said.


Baradar meets with Bayat chairman to discuss continued investment in Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

The deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for economic affairs, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with Dr Ehsanollah Bayat, the chairman of the Bayat Group and its subsidiary the Bayat Foundation, this weekend to discuss the company’s future plans regarding ongoing investment in the country.

The Bayat Group is Afghanistan’s largest private diversified services company, comprising telecoms, media, energy, technology and other enterprises, while the Bayat Foundation provides life saving aid to Afghans in times of need as well as health services.

In their meeting Saturday, Baradar and Dr Bayat discussed investment possibilities in a number of sectors.

According to Baradar’s office, Dr Bayat said he was ready to invest in Afghanistan in the health, electricity and telecommunications sectors.

In a series of tweets, Baradar’s office noted that the deputy prime minister told Dr Bayat in the meeting: “We appreciate and support all the efforts of businessmen and investors in the economic reconstruction of the country.”

He added: “Anyone who invests in Afghanistan and provides job opportunities for the people, we will support him and assure them of their security in the country.”

Baradar also thanked Dr Bayat for the services being provided by the Bayat Group and by the Bayat Foundation.

From 4G LTE communications to electric power, broadcasting, high speed internet, construction and mobile money, The Bayat Group builds market-leading enterprises that provide Afghans with innovative and popular products and services.

A champion of Afghan-based economic development, The Bayat Group provides employment to more than 10,000 Afghans through its direct operations and employs more than 100,000 other Afghan citizens through its ecosystem of dealers and vendors.

The foundation, which was started in 2006, has meanwhile helped rebuild Afghanistan as well as deliver hope and support to the neediest and most at-risk Afghans.

Involved in building mosques, and in the health care and education sectors, the foundation also answers to calls following natural disasters and times of human suffering.

A key example of the type of assistance provided by the Bayat Foundation was in the aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

Within hours of Wednesday’s quake, the foundation had dispatched not only essential relief including shelter, blankets and food, but also a team of doctors and a mobile clinic with life saving medicines to treat the injured.

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China pledges over $7 million in aid for quake victims



(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

China’s ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and said his country would provide emergency aid worth 50 million Yuan ($7.5 million) for victims of last week’s earthquake. 

At a meeting on Saturday in Kabul, Wang also said that MCC Mes Aynak copper mining contractor would provide $200,000 in aid. 

Wang said on Twitter: “Chinese enterprises will definitely fulfill their social responsibilities. The friendship between 2 countries and peoples will be further strengthened.”

Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government and people for the timely assistance and assured Wang that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities would distribute the aid promptly, fairly and transparently, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported. 

Aid provided by China will include tents, sheets, fold up beds, and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people. The first batch of aid is scheduled to arrive by charter flight on Monday, Bakhtar reported.

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Thousands of earthquake victims in need of water and food, at risk of disease



(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Thousands affected by a deadly earthquake in eastern Afghanistan are in need of clean water and food and are at risk of disease, an Afghan Health Ministry official said on Sunday days after a United Nations agency warned of a cholera outbreak in the region.

At least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed in last Wednesday’s earthquake, after which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that cholera outbreaks in the aftermath are of particular and serious concern.

“The people are extremely needy for food and clean water,” Afghanistan Health Ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman told Reuters, adding that officials had managed medicines for now but handling those who had lost their homes would be a challenge.

“We ask the international community, humanitarian organizations to help us for food and medicine, the survivor might catch diseases because they don’t have proper houses and shelters for living,” he said.

The UN and several countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

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