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Afghan-German flood wall partnership will directly benefit 30,000 Baghlan residents

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2020)

The German government this week facilitated the signing of a contract for the construction of a flood protection wall in Baghlan province in order to safeguard the lives of Pul-e Khumri city residents. 

On Tuesday, Baghlan’s Provincial Governor Taj Mohammad Jahid and the Director of Lower Kunduz River Basin Agency (LKRBA) signed the contract for the flood protection wall.

The Afghan-German Cooperation’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) will support the project’s technical implementation together with LKRBA and finance the project at a total cost of about AFN 67.7 million.

At the signing ceremony, Jahid, stated: “I express my thanks to the German government for funding this project. It will positively impact this area in the long term.”

Recently, flooding heavily eroded the Baladori Intake on the Lower Kunduz River, affecting the livelihoods of 30,000 residents along the Baladori Canal and in the Pul-i Khumri city centre. 

Several buildings close to the riverbank were destroyed especially as existing flood protection measures are in poor condition. 

According to the German Cooperation with Afghanistan website, the project was initiated by the LKRBA in 2016 to mitigate the risks of flooding.

The next step involved the Provincial Development Council (PDC) which prioritized the project in its development plan and now, construction work is expected to begin within two months.

The Provincial Director of Baghlan River Basin Agency, Asifullah Rahimi, explained: “With this important project’s implementation, many houses and community lands will be protected from flooding. Also, the intake of Baladori Canal will be strengthened to supply more water for about 400 ha (2,000 jeribs) of agricultural land.”

In addition to construction work, RIDF will offer on-the-job training, remote coaching and mentoring sessions for the engineers and managers working on the project. 

“The aim is to develop the department’s capacities to design, construct and maintain similar infrastructure projects independently in the future,” the RIDF statement read. 

The KfW Development Bank implements the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) program on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

RIDF aims to improve the living conditions in northern Afghanistan by providing basic infrastructure and empowering administration and citizen groups to plan, implement and operate infrastructure projects. 

Infrastructure measures include the construction of roads, irrigation canals, flood protection walls, and schools as well as the development of the power grid.

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Thousands cross border after Spin Boldak opens for one day only

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2020)

Spin Boldak border crossing opened on Saturday amid tight security, allowing thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis to cross into their home countries.

Officials opened the border crossing for one day, after having closed it early this month following heightened tension between the security forces in the area. 

One official at the border crossing told Pakistan’s Dawn News on Saturday night that “over 15,000 people, including women and children, crossed into their countries smoothly and amid tight security arrangements.” 

Tensions boiled over on July 31 when at least nine civilians were killed and 50 others wounded in Pakistani forces’ artillery attacks, the Afghan Defense Ministry said at the time. 

On Thursday, hundreds of Afghans staged a protest in Spin Boldak district, in Kandahar, to condemn the incident. 

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Afghan Cricket Board agrees tour of Zimbabwe now ‘not feasible’

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2020)

Responding to Zimbabwe’s announcement that it had canceled the T20I cricket series, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said late Saturday night that it respects Cricket Zimbabwe’s decision and agrees it is not feasible for the series to be held given the continued COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a press release issued late Saturday night, the board said that the “ACB understands that under the current situation where the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a grave threat to the health and safety of everyone concerned, it is not currently feasible for the series to be held.”

The tour was scheduled to start later this month.

In the statement, the ACB said it had always adhered to health and safety guidelines around the  COVID-19 outbreak and pointed out that the pandemic has had an extreme impact on the cricketing calendar for 2020. 

“ACB, therefore, respects and conforms to Cricket Zimbabwe’s decision in this regard and cites it as a fair decision under the relevant circumstances and looks forward to bilateral cricket between both sides in future. 

“As ACB and Cricket Zimbabwe share a good history of bilateral cricket, the possibility of a series between the National teams of both countries will be discussed again once the threat of COVID-19 is tackled effectively,” the statement read. 

The planned Twenty20 International cricket tour was called off on Saturday by Zimbabwe after the host government declined to approve the tour, citing health risks.

 The tour was expected to start this month and despite the Zimbabwean cricket federation having applied to government for the tour to go ahead, the five-match series was canceled. 

Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation Commission’s (SRC) director-general Prince Mupazviriho said: “It will not be proper at the moment for foreigners to come to Zimbabwe for sport considering that there won’t be enough time to go through the required quarantine period.”

“We also took into consideration the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and felt that such a tour would put the players and everybody at great risk. So the minister responsible (Sports minister Kirsty Coventry) decided not to approve the tour.”

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said the Afghanistan series cancellation was a huge setback for his country’s cricket team but added that the country is now hoping to travel to Pakistan in October to begin it’s World Super League commitments, a new ICC model that creates a pathway to the 2023 World Cup.

 

 

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US to reduce troop levels to less than 5,000 by end of November

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2020)

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that the United States will withdraw the number of troops in Afghanistan to below 5,000 by the end of November.

“We are going down to a number less than 5,000 before the end of November,” Esper said in an interview with Fox News.

Esper said the Pentagon would still need to brief members of Congress on the plan, and would also need to ensure the “United States is not threatened by terrorists coming out of Afghanistan.”

This comes after US President Donald Trump said in an interview with Axios last week, he would like to have “probably anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000” troops in Afghanistan by the time of the election on November 3.

Over the past six months, the US has reduced the number of troops to about 8,600 from 14,000. 

This was in accordance with the Doha agreement, signed in February, between Washington and the Taliban. 

However, US officials have stated that the second phase will be conditions-based, but have yet to define this. 

In his interview last week, Trump told Axios he will reduce American troop levels in Afghanistan down to about 4,000 “very soon”. 

He said: “We are largely out of Afghanistan”.

 “We’ll be down in a very short period of time to 8,000, then we’re going to be down to 4,000, we’re negotiating right now”, he said adding that the US had “been there now for 19 years and we will be getting out.”

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