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World Bank freezes Afghan projects after IEA bans girls from high school

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(Last Updated On: March 30, 2022)

The World Bank has put four projects in Afghanistan worth $600 million on hold amid concerns over a decision by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to ban girls from returning to public high schools, the bank said.

The projects, to be funded under the revamped Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, were being readied for implementation by United Nations agencies to support projects in agriculture, education, health, and livelihoods, Reuters reported.

But the bank’s guidance requires all ARTF-financed activities to support access to – and equity of services for – women and girls in Afghanistan, the bank said, citing its deep concerns over the IEA’s ban on girls attending high school, read the report.

As a result, the bank said, the four projects will be presented to ARTF donors for approval only “when the World Bank and international partners have a better understanding of the situation and confidence that the goals of the projects can be met.”

It was not immediately clear when that could occur, Reuters reported.

U.S. officials last week cancelled planned meetings in Doha with the IEA over the decision to keep girls out of secondary school.

According to Reuters the executive board of the World Bank on March 1 approved a plan to use more than $1 billion from the ARTF fund to finance urgently needed education, agriculture, health and family programs that would bypass sanctioned Islamic Emirate authorities and disburse the money through U.N. agencies and aid groups.

The ARTF was frozen in August when the IEA took power as U.S.-led international troops departed after 20 years of war.

Foreign governments also ended financial aid comprising over 70% of government expenditures, accelerating the country’s economic collapse, Reuters reported.

When it agreed to free up ARTF funds for new projects to be implemented by UN agencies, the World Bank had stipulated that it expected a “strong focus on ensuring that girls and women participate and benefit from the support.”

The IEA has unraveled gains in rights made by women during the last two decades, including restricting them from working and limiting their travel unless accompanied by a close male relative. Most girls were also barred from going to school beyond seventh grade.

But IEA leaders had said all girls would be allowed to return to classrooms later this month, Reuters reported.

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New Delhi hosts India-Central Asia meeting of NSAs

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2022)

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on Tuesday said that connectivity with Central Asian countries remains India’s key priority and that security and prosperity is a common goal for the region.

Speaking at the first India-Central Asia meeting of the National Security Advisers, in New Delhi, Doval said the security situation in Afghanistan was an important issue concerning “us all”.

This is the first time India is hosting a meeting of top security officials from Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Participants are focussing on the evolving security situation in Afghanistan and ways to deal with the threat of terrorism they said is emanating from the country.

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Japan gives over $106 million in aid to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2022)

Japan announced Tuesday that it has decided to give an additional $106.7 million in assistance to Afghanistan to help combat the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.

In a statement issued by the Japanese Embassy in Kabul, the mission said: “Pleased to announce that Japan has decided additional 106.7 million USD assistance for Afghanistan, enabling implementation of humanitarian and basic human needs assistance projects. We truly hope these projects will help bring many smiles of Afghan people!”

The mission said these projects will be implemented by UN agencies, international organizations and NGOs, all aiming for the betterment of livelihoods through multiple approaches.

With the upcoming $106.7 million, the cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since August 2021 will amount to $335 million, the statement read.

This comes just days after US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West has held talks with Japanese officials in Tokyo on humanitarian needs and human rights issues in Afghanistan.

“Japan has been a friend of the Afghan people and our partner there for over 20 yrs, and we deeply appreciate Japan’s active diplomacy and continued generosity today,” West said on Saturday.

“We are always stronger, on every challenge, when we act together with allies. True in Afghanistan – we’ll continue to need Japan’s expertise and diverse contributions,” West said.

The envoy also said that he got “sage advice” from Tadamichi Yamamoto, a Japanese who served as UN envoy for Afghanistan during 2016-2020.

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UN Security Council temporarily lifts travel ban on senior IEA official

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2022)

The UN Security Council has lifted the travel ban on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, for a period of 10 days, so he can attend an event in Russia, officials in Afghanistan stated.

The UN Security Council failed to extend a travel ban exemption on Khairkhah along with other IEA officials two months ago.

This latest temporary travel ban exemption is said to have come into effect on December 1 and will run through until December 10, allowing Khairkhah to travel to Kazan, the capital of the Russian Federation’s Republic of Tatarstan.

Khairkhah was formerly imprisoned in Guantanamo and was released in 2014 in exchange for an American soldier.

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