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Abandoning Afghanistan now, amid crisis, would be ‘historic mistake’

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(Last Updated On: November 18, 2021)

Urgent steps must be taken to address the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and stave off economic collapse, speakers at Wednesday’s UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan said.

“To abandon the Afghan people now would be a historic mistake — a mistake that has been made before with tragic consequences,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) takeover has left the Afghan people feeling abandoned, forgotten and punished by circumstances that are not their fault.

Lyons said that engagement with the IEA administration over the past three months in Kabul and the provinces have been “generally useful and constructive”, and that the new government want to have a United Nations presence and international recognition, and is looking to overcome the trust deficit between them and the international community.

She said gaps remained however, including the issue of inclusiveness in the government.

According to Lyons, UNAMA has not shied away from raising difficult issues with the IEA, particularly on women’s rights and girls’ education.

She said the IEA has taken cognizance of such concerns, but they have made it clear that for now there are limits to concessions they are willing to make on some issues.

Lyons also said the IEA has not been able to stem the expansion of the Islamic State (ISIS-K/Daesh), which has become increasingly active, “stepping up attacks from 60 in 2020 to 334 in 2021.” She said the group has gained ground across all provinces.

Addressing the dire humanitarian situation in the country, she said it is preventable, as the paralyzed economy is largely due to financial sanctions.

With the winter approaching, she said, up to 23 million Afghans will be in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. In addition, while the risk of famine was once restricted to rural areas, 10 out of 11 of Afghanistan’s most densely populated urban areas are now anticipated to be at emergency levels of food insecurity, she said.

Lyons cautioned that the continuing deterioration of the economy threatens to heighten the risk of extremism, adding that the paralysis of the banking sector could push more of the financial system into unregulated informal money exchanges which can facilitate terrorism, trafficking and drug smuggling. “Such pathologies will first affect Afghanistan and then infect the region,” she warned.

According to the UN, close to 23 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance and poverty is widespread, with Afghanistan poised to experience “near-universal poverty” — a 97 percent poverty rate by the middle of 2022.

Council members noted that with the economy on the brink of collapse, aid alone cannot adequately address the crisis. In turn they urged that the UNSC must find ways to address the current banking problem and continue to exempt humanitarian and service-delivery operations from sanctions.

They also said the dormant peace process that began in Doha must be resuscitated, hold the IEA to commitments they made and hold it accountable for past and ongoing violations of human rights.

The Council must also engage Afghans not as victims, but as stakeholders in building sustainable peace in Afghanistan, the members urged.

In the Council discussion, members also called for immediate and unhindered assistance. Some delegates condemned the recent spate of terrorist attacks, while others raised concerns about the repression of the rights of women, protesters and journalists, and reports of human rights violations, including arbitrary executions.

China’s delegate said Afghanistan must be able to pursue a sound path towards development and called on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider the resumption of financial support.

“When teachers and doctors have not received salaries for half a year, where does one begin to speak of girls’ education, or fighting the pandemic?”, he asked, adding that such measures are morally unacceptable and worsen the humanitarian crisis.

Pakistan’s representative also called for the lifting of the freeze on Afghanistan’s assets, noting that his country has committed $30 million in assistance to the country, together with wheat, rice, emergency medical supplies, and other essential items.

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Bayat Foundation steps in to help at-risk families in Maidan Wardak province

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

Bayat Foundation officials said Friday they have sent in a huge consignment of food aid to Maidan Wardak province to help hundreds of needy families.

According to officials, the aid includes flour, rice and oil, which they have started distributing to deserving families in the province.

“In continuation of the Bayat Foundation aid campaign, which sees us distribute aid every winter, today we had a program in Maidan Wardak province to distribute to deserving people. The aid included flour, rice and oil. The aid will be distributed in other provinces also,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, deputy head of Bayat Foundation.

Recipients of the food parcels welcomed the initiative and called on other charity organizations to help families in need.

“This winter, many people are in need [of aid]; they assisted us, we are grateful. We want them to help us again [in the future],” said one Maidan Wardak recipient.

“Our people are in need. No one has helped them so far. We are grateful to Bayat Foundation that helped us during this difficult time,” said another recipient.

“We are very grateful, because they helped us. We want them to continue their aid so we can survive this difficult situation,” said another resident of Wardak.

Each year, Bayat Foundation carries out a winter campaign, providing needy people with food. This winter, however, the foundation has ramped up efforts to reach as many Afghans as possible across the country amid the ongoing economic crisis.

Already thousands of desperate families have received food parcels from Bayat Foundation in over a dozen provinces in the country.

Food parcels are given to only the most at-risk families who are identified through a comprehensive assessment carried out by the foundation once an area has been earmarked for distribution.

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IEA warns media against publishing rumors

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

The intelligence department of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government said Thursday that media outlets should not spread false news and baseless rumors.

“A number of figures want to insult Islamic values so that they can achieve western citizenship,” the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) tweeted.

According to the GDI, these individuals have made untrue statements about the IEA which some media have reported on.

The country’s media, in accordance with the principles of journalism, should strictly refrain from publishing false news and baseless rumors, GDI tweeted.

The intelligence department has pointed out that insulting religious sanctities and rituals is not acceptable to the people.

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Biden defiantly defends Afghanistan exit, makes ‘no apologies’

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday firmly defended the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and said he makes no apologies.

Addressing a press conference, Biden said: “I make no apologies for what I did.”

His administration drew criticism for the way troops were withdrawn and the sudden collapse of the previous government.

Biden suggested Wednesday there was nothing else that could have been done to bolster Afghan allies.

“Raise your hand if you think anyone was going to be able to unify Afghanistan under one single government,” he said.

“It’s been the graveyard of empires for a solid reason. It is not susceptible to unity.”

He also suggested it was not the responsibility of the U.S. to fix Afghanistan’s challenges, The Week reported.

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