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Afghan evacuees who fail initial screening will head for Kosovo

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(Last Updated On: September 5, 2021)

Kosovo has agreed to take in Afghanistan evacuees who fail to clear initial rounds of screening and host them for up to a year, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity Saturday.

The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo said later in a statement that the arrangement did not mean Kosovo was taking evacuees who had been deemed ineligible for admission to the United States.

“Some applicants are still in the process of obtaining needed documents and providing all the information required to qualify under U.S law for immediate entry,” the embassy statement said.

Several other countries for a time balked at temporarily hosting the United States’ Afghan evacuees, for fear of getting stuck with the Americans’ security problems, AP reported.

Within days of the Taliban takeover, the U.S. mobilized thousands of American troops, diplomats, law enforcement agents, border and transportation workers, volunteers and others for screening, processing and caring for evacuees at more than a half-dozen U.S. naval stations, airfields and army bases in Europe and Asia.

The aim of the mobilization was to get deserving evacuees through to the United States as quickly as possible, and stop possible security risks among evacuees, and other evacuees who failed to qualify for relocation to the United States, before they touched foot on U.S. soil.

The hastiness of the airlifts led to a minority of people among the evacuees getting thousands of miles from the Kabul airport before Americans detected problems, including some evacuees with security issues.

Some who managed to get through crushing crowds and U.S. and Taliban controls at the airport got put on planes and made it to transit sites, without any apparent eligibility for U.S. relocation as an at-risk Afghan, the official said.

Most Afghan evacuees are clearing processing in a matter of days at large transit sites that U.S. government employees set up quickly at military bases in Qatar, Germany and Italy, along with smaller sites elsewhere. Those evacuees then fly through Philadelphia or Washington Dulles airports for resettling in the United States.

Eligible Afghans include those who worked for the U.S. government, or women’s advocates, journalists or others vulnerable because of their role in Afghan civil society.

The U.S. official who disclosed the Kosovo plan said the transit centers “provide a safe place for diverse groups … to complete their paperwork while we conduct security screenings before they continue to their final destination in the United States or in another country.”

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Bayat Foundation provides much needed food parcels to Balkh residents

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Hundreds of poverty-stricken families in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, were given food parcels on Sunday in a drive by the organization to help desperate families ahead of winter.

Committed to helping the hungry, Bayat Foundation has so far sent hundreds of packages that include rice, flour and oil, to the destitute in Kandahar, Herat and now Balkh.

According to foundation officials, they are working as fast as possible to provide the essential food items to people before winter sets in.

“The Bayat Foundation continues to provide assistance to the deserving and displaced people. We have already distributed aid to people in Kandahar and Herat and today we have distributed in Mazar-e-Sharif,” said Haji Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Chairman of the Bayat Foundation.

Bayat Foundation has carried out comprehensive assessments in these areas to identify recipients in urgent need of help.

“Based on the Bayat Foundation’s survey results, we are distributing foodstuff for really deserving people,” said Yafes Saqeb, Head of Bayat Foundation in Balkh.

Recipients of the food parcels welcomed the foundation’s initiative and said a large percentage of local families are facing serious financial problems.

“People don’t have food. We welcome their assistance and want them to continue their help,” said Abdul Ghafar, a resident.

“In this dangerous time that people are living in, hungry, we really welcome the assistance. We want them to continue with this assistance,” said Mohammad Baqer, another resident.

“There is no work. Women have problems, and can’t leave [their homes]. We are grateful to them and hope they carry on helping us,” said Shakela, another resident.
Bayat Foundation officials have said they will continue to provide food parcels and hope to reach as many people across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan families are desperate amid a looming humanitarian crisis following the abrupt end to foreign financial aid and the freezing of Afghanistan’s assets by the US.

Families have been hit hard by the unexpected withdrawal of foreign organizations, diplomatic missions as well as the withdrawal of US troops.

Together these entities employed hundreds of thousands of people both directly and indirectly – people who now have no income. In addition to this, the 300,000 former security force members, who were paid by the US, are also now unemployed and penniless.

Afghanistan’s winters are particularly harsh, and given the collapsing economy, Afghans are extremely worried about what lies ahead.

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MoD to form a new, independent national army

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said Saturday that they will establish a new army that is independent in order to defend Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, acting minister of defense and son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said in a voice clip on Sunday that efforts are being made to safeguard Afghanistan’s territory and airspace.

“We intend to create a national and independent army under MoD to defend the country with high values. We will attempt to equip the IEA army with modern weapons. The army should have ground and airspace capabilities,” said Mullah Yaqoob.

The acting minister assured the international community and countries in the region that no one will be allowed to use Afghanistan terrority to carry out attacks against them.

“Countries in the world know that an army is impossible without foreign assistance. The world should help Afghanistan in this regard,” said Mohammad Sarwar Naizai, a military analyst.

The caretaker minister did not however provide further details about how the IEA will finance the army or whether it will include soldiers from the former government.

The previous Western-backed government paid the salaries of the then soldiers with money from the United States. On August 15, when former president Ashraf Ghani and all his top officials fled the country, the US and NATO-trained army and airforce disintegrated within hours.

The same day, IEA forces rolled into Kabul and took over as the new rulers. However, the foreign donor community and the US immediately cut off financial aid to Afghanistan and froze all the central bank’s foreign reserves – cutting off salaries to hundreds of thousands of former soldiers and government workers.

Some IEA officials meanwhile said that former government soldiers will be brought back into the army.

“We have left the way open for those people who were in security institutions in the former government. Some of them have returned already,” said Qari Saeed Khosti, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

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Pakistan denies reports it struck deal with US on Afghanistan operations

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied a media report which claimed that the two countries are “nearing a formalised agreement” to give Washington access to Pakistan’s airspace for operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has denied it struck a deal to allow the US to use its airspace for military and intelligence operations in neighboring Afghanistan.

“No such understanding is in place,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement on Saturday in response to media reports.

“Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counterterrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said earlier this year that “there is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not.”

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