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Watchdog urges unconditional support to protect Afghan women

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(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.

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Biden extends US national emergency over humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

US President Joe Biden has extended for one more year the national emergency declared in his executive order with respect to the widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the “potential for deepening economic collapse” in the country.

On February 11, 2022, Biden by an executive order declared a national emergency to deal with the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” constituted by the widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the potential for a deepening economic collapse in the country, the White House said.

“The widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan — including the urgent needs of the people of Afghanistan for food security, livelihoods support, water, sanitation, health, hygiene, shelter and settlement assistance, and COVID-19-related assistance, among other basic human needs — and the potential for a deepening economic collapse in Afghanistan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” White House said in a notice released on February 3.

“In addition, the preservation of certain property of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) held in the United States by United States financial institutions is of the utmost importance to addressing this national emergency and the welfare of the people of Afghanistan,” the notice said.

“Various parties, including representatives of victims of terrorism, have asserted legal claims against certain property of DAB or indicated in public court filings an intent to make such claims. This property is blocked under Executive Order 14064.”

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Kandahar-Dubai flights resume

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

Local officials in Kandahar province say flights between Kandahar and Dubai have resumed for the first time since the IEA took control of Afghanistan in August 2021.

The head of Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar has said that the flights have been resumed by Kam Air, the largest private airline in Afghanistan.

Kam Air officials meanwhile said that the west and south zones have more traders and industrialists; therefore, they have resumed the flights.

It is said that round-trip flights will also soon start between Kandahar and New Delhi and Kandahar and China.

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At least 8,000 Afghan refugees return from Iran in past week

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities at the Refugee and Repatriation Department of Nimruz province announced that 7,612 Afghan refugees have returned to the country from Iran over the past week.

Sediqullah Nasrat, the director of the department said on Saturday that 519 refugees who were facing serious financial problems, received cash aid from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Nasrat added that IOM – the United Nations agency for migration – distributed food and other necessary items to the remaining families.

He said the 7,612 Afghan migrants returned to the country from Iran through the Abrishum border crossing.

This comes as the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a private organization called ‘Osta’ to create employment opportunities for more than a thousand needy families.

Although many immigrants are forcibly returned to the country, the deterioration of the economic situation in Iran has also caused migrants to return to the country.

A number of immigration experts say that the new Afghan government should try to solve the problems of Afghan immigrants in host countries through diplomatic means, especially on the issue of accommodation, especially as many migrants do not have legal documents.

Although Iran and Pakistan have been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for years, recent developments in the country have increased the number of these migrants. Now, the Islamic Emirate says that they are trying to gradually provide job opportunities to the returning migrants.

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