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World Bank survey finds living conditions remain dire for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2022)

Living conditions remain difficult for Afghan families as two-thirds of households in the country continue to struggle to meet basic food and non-food needs, a new World Bank survey published Tuesday found.

Conducted between June and August 2022, the second Afghanistan Welfare Monitoring Survey assessed changes in basic living conditions in Afghanistan one year after the collapse of the former government.

The survey paints a grim picture of living conditions in Afghanistan as widespread deprivation continues and food insecurity remains high, negatively impacting the economy and the welfare of the Afghan people, especially women and girls.

Around two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents believe that the economic conditions of their household will worsen over the next 12 months.

“It is deeply concerning to see that a majority of Afghan households continue to face enormous economic difficulties and that access to education – especially for girls – remains severely constrained,” said Melinda Good, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“There is an urgent need for the interim Taliban (IEA) administration to take tangible steps to improve food security and livelihoods, maintain basic health services, and ensure that the private sector can play a role to create jobs for the many Afghans, particularly young people, who are unemployed. Without this, the welfare of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, remains at risk.”

The survey found that rising food prices and the persistent effects of last year’s drought are among the main reasons for limited access to and affordability of food. “It signals more significant deprivation in the coming winter months,” the reported warned.

However, employment among household heads increased by seven percent between October 2021 and June 2022, with a slight uptick in private-sector salaried work, while public-sector employment remains much lower.

Nine percent of household heads were salaried in private-sector jobs, while more young men (ages 14-18) and older men (ages 55-65) seek work but cannot find it, fueling unemployment.

In contrast, many more women across all age groups report becoming economically active, with female labor force participation doubling relative to 2016 or 2020. Women are working predominantly in home-based self-employed activities, the report stated.

At the national level, primary school enrollment is as high as it was in 2016, primarily driven by increased enrollment of children in rural areas. In urban areas, primary school enrollment for girls and boys remains below the levels observed in 2016.

Secondary school enrollment rates for boys appear stagnant in rural areas and have declined in urban areas as older boys drop out of school to seek jobs in an increasingly difficult labor market, the survey found.

Girls’ secondary school attendance has collapsed, particularly in urban areas, from 44 and 50 percent in the summers of 2016 and 2020 respectively, to just 12 percent in the summer of 2022. “This finding is consistent with the current closure of secondary schools for girls under the interim Taliban(IEA) administration,” the report stated.

Medical services meanwhile continue to be available, as only eight percent of individuals who needed health services were unable to obtain them. Little differences in access are reported between urban and rural areas and women were able to access healthcare services, public and private, at the same rates as men, the World Bank noted.

On security, the report noted that perceptions had improved, with two-thirds of households reporting that they feel safer than a year ago. However, the same is not true in the Central and West-Central regions, where more households report feeling less safe than a year ago.

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Afghanistan announces aid for quake-hit Turkey and Syria

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Tuesday announced AFN 15 million (approx. $166,000 USD) in humanitarian aid for people affected by recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Of the total, AFN 10 million (approx. $111,000) will be for Turkey, and AFN 5 million (approx. $55,000) will be for Syria.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that IEA stands in solidarity with its brothers and sisters in this time of hardship.

It added that the aid is on the basis of “shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood.”

The statement also said that IEA emergency response and health teams stand ready to participate in rescue operations to assist the affected people if called upon.

The ministry instructed its diplomatic mission in Turkey to not spare any efforts in assisting the victims, and urged Turkey-based Afghan citizens to help with the relief efforts.

Thousands have been killed in Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency across 10 provinces worst affected by the earthquakes.

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28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that Afghanistan needs immediate humanitarian aid.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi on Monday said that Afghanistan is experiencing the worst period over the past two decades.

Abdi said on Twitter that humanitarian needs are felt now more than ever before in Afghanistan, and has warned that disruptions of aid will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country, already plagued with critical challenges.

“Some 28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid, which needs the immediate attention of the international community, partners, and Taliban’s caretaker government,” Abdi said.

During his visit with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore reiterated that the organization is committed to carrying on its much-needed operations in the areas of education, healthcare, and children’s vaccinations in Afghanistan.

Previously, UNICEF announced that Afghanistan is among the eight most hunger-hit countries in the world.

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Iran’s top security official leaves for Russia to attend Afghanistan meeting

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani has left the country for Russia to attend a summit that will focus on the political, economic and security situation in Afghanistan.

Shamkhani will join top security officials from Central Asian countries, Pakistan, India and China for a meeting planned for Wednesday in the Russian capital Moscow as part of the fifth round of the multilateral talks on Afghanistan.

The previous edition of the conference had been held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in May 2022.

Indian capital of New Delhi had hosted the third round of the initiative in 2021 two years after it was launched in Tehran.

Shamkhani is also scheduled to hold meetings with his counterparts from other countries, including Russia’s top security official.

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