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Bayat Foundation steps in to help vulnerable Surobi residents

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2020)

Afghan charity organization, the Bayat Foundation, stepped in to help needy Afghans again this week when they distributed food packages to victims of recent floods and conflict in the Surobi district of Kabul province.

According to Haji Mohammad Ismail, deputy head of the organization, “the Bayat Foundation continues its assistance to flood victims – the same as we did with aid to other flood-affected people in Parwan and Maidan Wardak [provinces].”

“Today we are distributing food supplies including flour, rice, cooking oil, and pasta to vulnerable [families] who have been affected by the recent flash floods in Surobi district of Kabul province,” he said.

In the past few months, dozens of families have been displaced in the Surobi district due to conflict and floods. As such, Surobi District Governor Shah Mahmood Ibrahimkhail welcomed the assistance and thanked the organization for its help. 

He also asked that the foundation, along with other organizations, continue to help vulnerable families in affected communities. 

Recipients of the foundation’s food packages also voiced their appreciation stating many people had lost everything in the recent floods and many have no shelter and some have no food. 

In late August close to 200 people died in flash floods that devastated large parts of 13 provinces in the country. 

Thousands of homes were either damaged or destroyed and scores of farmers lost crops following days of torrential rain. 

In addition to this, many communities in the same areas and in other parts of the country continue to be affected by the ongoing conflict. 

In a statement issued last week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that as of September 20, more than 172,000 people had been displaced by conflict this year. 

An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced since 2012, with many of them living in informal settlements with few, if any, basic social services.

OCHA also stated that the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan requires US$1.1 billion, targeting more than 11 million people. To date, only $339 million has been received.

 

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NATO Defence Ministers meet to address security challenges

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday evening that alliance defense ministers had taken “another important step” and agreed to establish a new NATO Space Center in Germany. 

Addressing an online press conference after the first day of the two-day defense minister’s meeting, Stoltenberg said the new center will “help to coordinate Allied space activities; support NATO missions and operations from space, including with communications and satellite imagery; and protect Allied space systems by sharing information about potential threats.”

He also said they had addressed Russia’s growing arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles and said the “challenge is serious, and growing in scale and complexity.”

A number of other issues were also addressed including that of new air and missile defense systems; strengthening NATO’s advanced conventional capabilities; and new fifth-generation fighter aircraft. 

Stoltenberg stated that ministers had also received a comprehensive report on the state of critical infrastructure, including ports and airports; supplies of fuel, food and medical equipment; and telecommunications, including 5G.

“While we have made progress, there are still vulnerabilities. For instance foreign control of the critical infrastructure upon which our societies and our militaries rely,” he said.

“Countries like China are investing aggressively in ports and airports, and our telecommunication networks remain vulnerable to attacks from the outside, and compromise from the inside.

“So we must continue to build up our resilience. And we have agreed that we will strengthen our resilience pledge when NATO leaders meet next year.”

On Friday, NATO’s training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq will be discussed.  

Addressing a pre-ministerial meeting on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and supports the Afghan peace talks.

He also said however that: “The Taliban must live up to their commitments, significantly reduce the levels of violence, and pave the way for a ceasefire.” 

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UN to probe Takhar airstrike after locals claim children were killed

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Thursday night it was investigating an Afghan National Army (ANA) airstrike in Takhar province that reportedly killed 12 children. 

In a post on Twitter, the mission said: “UNAMA civilian protection team following up on allegations of ANA airstrike yesterday against Taliban in Takhar province killing 12 children, girls & boys, & injuring 18 other civilians.”

UNAMA also stated that the United Nations will issue findings when complete. 

This comes after local officials in Takhar said early Thursday morning a mosque had been targeted in an airstrike killing children and injuring many others, including the mosque’s imam. 

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh rejected the claims in a Facebook post later in the day and said Taliban members had been targeted and eliminated. 

“The news of the killing of children in a mosque in Takhar is baseless. Those who dragged our forces to dust and blood yesterday were destroyed, and we have undeniable proof,” Saleh wrote.

This came a day after the Taliban carried out a massive attack against Afghan security forces in the province, killing as many as 50 soldiers. 

Reuters reported that Abdul Qayoom Hayrat, head of the provincial health department in Takhar, said that 10 of the dead soldiers were members of the Afghan special forces.

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Brazilian volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine trial dies 

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Brazilian health authority Anvisa confirmed a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but said the trial would continue.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial,” Reuters reported.

A source told Reuters the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis vaccination.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which confirmed the volunteer was Brazilian, said a review committee had suggested the trial continue. 

The university is helping to coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil.

 

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