Balkh has decided to conditionally lift movement restrictions in the city while the COVID19 outbreak continues.
The anti-coronavirus commission in Balkh has decided to conditionally and gradually ease the lockdown in Mazar-e-Sharif city starting from today, Sunday.
The commission said it was important to abide by the rules of healthcare guidelines at work, and that all guilds, except those that were not considered necessary, such as hotels, could start operating today.
On the other hand, a number of Mazar-e-Sharif residents see the lifting of restrictions as harmful in the current situation because the virus is still spreading.
In the meantime, in the last 24 hours alone, 43 new cases have tested positive in Balkh, and there is a total of 300 confirmed infections already there.
ADB approves APPC’s loan to enhance Afghanistan’s energy security
On 17 June, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Afghan Power Plant Company Limited (APPC) signed a $10 million loan, ADB said in a statement.
According to ADB, this loan is part of a financing package for the Mazar gas-fired power plant, supporting Afghanistan’s efforts to achieve long-term energy security through affordable domestic power sources.
The project is the first private sector gas-fired plant in Afghanistan to be funded by development finance institutions, says ADB.
#ADBNEWS: The project, the first of its kind in Afghanistan to be funded by development institutions, represents a significant engagement by ADB to support essential infrastructure through private sector in a fragile & conflict-affected situation.
— Asian Development Bank (@ADB_HQ) June 18, 2020
ADB says that in line with its long-term corporate strategy, Strategy 2030, the bank supports essential infrastructure through the private sector in a fragile and conflict-affected situation.
“ADB will also administer a $10 million loan for the project provided by Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP),” the statement adds.
The ABD says that the loan provides long-term financing to build and operate a 58.56-megawatt gas-fired power plant located near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.
“The project cost a total of $89 million, will use indigenous gas and is expected to generate 404 gigawatt-hours of power annually,” the statement writes.
Director of Infrastructure Finance Chakraborty, said, “This project is definitive proof that indigenous gas-based power generation is capable of displacing electricity imports in Afghanistan and helping to deliver energy security.”
He added, “Its success will send an important signal to the market that Afghanistan’s power industry is now ready to attract more private sector investment and financing.”
APPC Chairman Ismail Ghazanfar said, “This is the first step in Ghazanfar Group’s vision of helping to develop 5,000 megawatts of energy generation facilities in Afghanistan through partnerships with international development banks, local and international companies, and the Government of Afghanistan.”
It is worth mentioning that Afghanistan imports at least 75% of its energy needs.
At least 1,000 pigeons die of starvation – Balkh
Restrictions on movements and the ban on pilgrims entering Rawza have led to a shortage of food for pigeons, which have so far killed some 1,000 of them due to starvation.
The Coronavirus has not only challenged human life but has also threatened the life of pigeons in Rawza-e Mubarak – the shrine of Ali – in Mazar which due to the restrictions face lack of food.
Reportedly, nearly 1,000 pigeons have died of starvation so far, according to officials.
They emphasize that if the government does not help provide the pigeons with food, a large number of birds may vanish.
The pigeons – widely known as ‘the white doves’ that spreads the feeling of freedom – are the birds that in the sky of Mazar-e-Sharif catch the eyes of all the spectators and fly around the blue dome of the shrine of Ali.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people used to visit the shrine every day and, see the pigeons and would sprinkle them with seeds, the bird food.
For three months now, due to the spread of the Coronavirus, pilgrims have been barred from entering the holy spot. Thus, the white doves, who have become accustomed to the people, have faced a shortage of seeds – a serious threat to their survival.
A number of residents of Mazar-e-Sharif, who have been throwing three bags of wheat and corn to pigeons each day since the beginning of the pandemic and curfews, say that the situation will get worse if the government and relevant bodies do not help.
The exact number of pigeons is unknown, but officials say that there are more than 10,000 of them.
These birds, which were never far from human love and pilgrims’ special attention, feel alone now and their survival depends on human help.
Officials at the shrine say that they have shared the problem with the local government and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, but they have not yet addressed the problem.
Ulema: Eid-ul-Fiter prayers must be practiced as per pertinent guidelines
The Ulema call on people to practice the Eid-ul-Fiter prayers in line with the guidelines given by the ministries of Hajj and Religious Affairs and Public Health.
In a resolution, the Ulema (religious scholars) asked the imams to shorten the Eid prayer sermons and focus their agenda on ending the war, bringing peace, and healthcare guidance against the Coronavirus.
In addition, the Ulema underline the need for healthcare measures, such as disinfecting the prayer venues, performing the prayers in the open air, keeping distance, and wearing masks.
They also have banned the presence of the infected from joining the congregations.
Aimed to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus, they want the people to celebrate the holiday indoors with their families, and seriously avoid in-person socializing such as visits, embracing, hugging, and handshakes.
In the meantime, Baghlan health officials announced that over 60 mosques where the prayers are scheduled to be held Sunday in Pol-e-Khumri, have been disinfected and that the campaign continues in all parts of the province.
The Baghlan police chief has also announced to provide special security for the prayer venues (mosques) and the city.
In Kabul, officials say the city will be completely quarantined during the Eid, and people should stay indoors throughout the days and avoid traveling at all to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the ministry of interior has said this Eid will be a curfew in Kabul and that the police are going to enforce the curfew strictly.
It is noteworthy that the health officials have consistently said that an unprecedented calamity is on its way to hit the nation unless the people abide by the rules of restrictions and follow the health guidelines.
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