The European Union has allocated €150,000 ($170,000) in humanitarian aid to help ease the plight of thousands of Afghans affected by recent floods in the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the EU said the will directly benefit at least 35,000 affected people in some of the hardest-hit areas in Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Paktika, Panjshir, and Parwan provinces.
According to the statement, the funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The EU-funding supports the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in delivering much-needed assistance through the distribution of emergency food supplies to those hit by the floods, the statement said.
“Given the predominantly patriarchal culture in the Afghan society, the program ensures a gender-sensitive approach, allowing both women and men equal and safe access to the support. As the COVID-19 outbreak remains a significant threat, personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers are also being provided as part of the mitigation measures,” the statement read.
This comes after last month’s floods destroyed and damaged thousands of homes in 14 provinces and left at least 190 people dead.
The devastating floods hit the central and eastern parts of Afghanistan which is battling ongoing conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their statement, the EU said flash floods had “destroyed homes, damaged large swathes of agricultural lands and irrigation systems, adversely affecting the livelihoods and food security of families.”
The European Union, together with its Member States, is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid and relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world.
It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
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Pakistan’s peace envoy arrives in Kabul for talks
Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan said Sunday that a high-ranking delegation led by Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials.
“Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation, arrived in Kabul this morning for discussions with Afghan officials on peace,” Khan tweeted.
During his visit Sadiq will also discuss security and related matters, the ambassador confirmed.
Sadiq’s visit comes just two weeks after a scheduled visit by another Pakistani delegation was canceled due to security threats.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Asad Qaisar, and his accompanying delegation were forced to turn back to Islamabad after entering Afghan airspace following the reported discovery of explosive materials at the airport.
At the time, Qaisar’s flight was turned back after NATO warned they had found explosives on the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul city.
Qaisar had been scheduled to visit Kabul for three days.
According to officials at the time, the explosives had been planted on one of the runways years ago.
CENTCOM chief in midst of ‘detailed planning’ for counterterrorism ops
Carrying out airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan without a US troop presence in the country will be difficult but “not impossible”, the commander of US Central Command General Frank McKenzie said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, McKenzie said he is in the midst of “detailed planning” for options for so-called “over the horizon” forces, or forces positioned elsewhere in the region that could continue counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan.
He said he plans to give Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin those options by the end of the month.
“If you leave Afghanistan and you want to go back in to conduct these kinds of operations, there are three things you need to do: you need to find the target, you need to fix the target, and you need to be able to finish the target,” McKenzie said.
“The first two require heavy intelligence support. If you’re out of the country, and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have there now, it will be harder to do that. It is not impossible to do that.”
McKenzie’s testimony comes almost a week after President Joe Biden announced he was withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan and that they would all be home by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
According to The Hill, Biden’s decision came despite repeated statements from US military officials that the Taliban was not yet upholding its end of a deal made during the Trump administration to reduce violence and break from al-Qaeda, as well as warnings about the potential for chaos in Afghanistan that could allow an al-Qaeda resurgence should US troops withdraw.
Meanwhile, McKenzie’s comments about the difficulty of intelligence gathering without a troop presence echo comments last week from CIA Director William Burns, who told senators the ability to collect intelligence on threats in Afghanistan will “diminish” with a US military withdrawal, the Hill reported.
On Tuesday, McKenzie also said he continues to have “grave doubts” about the Taliban’s reliability in upholding its commitments under the deal signed last year.
McKenzie declined to tell lawmakers how he advised Biden as the president deliberated the withdrawal, but said he had “multiple opportunities” to provide Biden with his perspective.
The Hill reported that speaking broadly about options to continue strikes once US troops leave, McKenzie said surveillance drones could be positioned in a place where they can reach Afghanistan “in a matter of minutes” or ”perhaps much further away.”
“We will look at all the countries in the region, our diplomats will reach out, and we’ll talk about places where we could base those resources,” he said.
“Some of them may be very far away, and then there would be a significant bill for those types of resources because you’d have to cycle a lot of them in and out. That is all doable, however.”
Right now, McKenzie added, the United States does not have any basing agreements with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan or other countries surrounding Afghanistan.
McKenzie also said there are a “variety of ways” to strike targets, including long-range precision fire missiles, manned raids or manned aircraft.
“There are problems with all three of those options, but there’s also opportunities with all three of those options,” he said.
“I don’t want to make light of it. I don’t want to put on rose-colored glasses and say it’s going to be easy to do. I can tell you that the U.S. military can do just about anything. And we’re examining this problem with all of our resources right now to find a way to do it in the most intelligent, risk-free manner that we can.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley are also scheduled to brief the full House and Senate behind closed doors later Tuesday on Biden’s plan for Afghanistan.
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