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Donors still to decide on shifting frozen funds for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Donors to the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) have agreed to decide about a transfer of funds to humanitarian aid agencies by December 10, a World Bank spokesperson said on Friday.

The World Bank’s board this week backed transferring $280 million from the $1.5 billion trust fund, which was frozen after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over the Afghan government in August, to the World Food Programme and UNICEF, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan.

The World Bank spokesperson gave no details on the proposal, but said ARTF donors met on Friday and agreed to make a decision on transfers out of the fund in one week.

No further details about the ARTF meeting were immediately available.

The U.S. Treasury Department had no comment.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty since the Taliban seized power at the end of August as the last U.S. troops withdrew from 20 years of war.

Afghan experts have said the aid would help, but big questions remain, including how to get funds into Afghanistan without exposing any financial institutions involved to U.S. sanctions.

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Turkey sends humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2022)

A special “charity train” carrying tons of emergency goods under the coordination of Turkey’s government left Ankara, the capital of Turkey, for Afghanistan on Thursday, Anadolu agency reported.

The train, with aid from 11 humanitarian organizations coordinated by the state Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), is bound for a journey of 4,168 kilometers (3,590 miles), according to Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu.

“We have two trains with 47 wagons, carrying approximately 750 tons of charity goods,” Karaismailoglu said, adding that the train will reach Afghanistan after first passing through Iran and Turkmenistan, read the report.

Citing the start of an Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul cargo train last December, he said the charity train will travel the corridor in 16 days.

For his part, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu stressed that 12.9 million children in Afghanistan are in need of aid due to extreme weather conditions, Anadolu reported.

“For the past four years, we have been the country, the nation that has given the most aid in the world,” said Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

According to the UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over 9 million people have been displaced, and millions of children are out of school.

Previously, the UN and its partners launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has also warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of death, urging the international community to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets and jump-start its banking system.

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ADB approves $405 million in grants to help overcome crisis in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday it has approved $405 million in grants to support food security and help sustain the delivery of essential health and education services for the Afghan people.

According to a statement issued by the ADB, under its Sustaining Essential Services Delivery Project (Support for Afghan People), ADB will provide direct financing to four United Nations (UN) agencies operating in Afghanistan.

This is for immediate humanitarian support in response to the unprecedented crisis and to help sustain the country’s human development, the statement read.

According to UN estimates, 22.8 million people are at risk of acute food insecurity.

These funds will enable the provision of emergency food to over 800,000 people and farm inputs, fertilizers, or small farm equipment to around 390,000 households. Around 168,000 people will be covered under food-for-work and cash-for-work programs.

In addition, $200 million will go towards maintaining basic health care and essential hospital services, covering a target population of about 5.3 million people, and the procurement and deployment of 2.3 million single-dose COVID-19 vaccines.

Other initiatives will also be driven through the use of the grant money that includes community-based education classes, for boys and girls; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will monitor project implementation, undertake macroeconomic and social assessments in the country, and assess the impact of ADB’s assistance.

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Kabul’s China Town to host expo to boost trade

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2022)

Chinese businessmen in Kabul have said they plan to host a trade fair aimed at boosting bilateral trade ties between the two countries, China’s Global Times reported.

According to the report, China Town in Kabul will host Afghanistan’s first China-Afghanistan commodity technology fair, as well as the second China-Afghanistan business fair in April.

A source from China Town in Kabul told Global Times that arrangements for both expos have been made and invitations have been sent out to key individuals including Afghan government officials and Chinese businessmen.

“This form of exhibition is unprecedented, since no Chinese company has done it before,” Li Xijing, deputy general manager of China Town, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“We have sent invitations to the various Afghan government departments, and they have indicated that they would participate in the meeting at that time… there will be more participants expected,” Li said.

Organizers said they hope to build a bridge for direct communication between Chinese and Afghan enterprises and merchants and create a platform to bring together Chinese businesses.

About 95 percent of Afghan goods are imported, and Chinese goods account for 60-70 percent of all imports.

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