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Germany, Belgium floods: at least 100 dead, more than 1,000 missing

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(Last Updated On: July 16, 2021)

More than 1,000 people were missing and more houses were destroyed in flood-stricken regions in western Germany and Belgium on Friday where further flooding was feared with the death toll already over 100.

Entire communities lay in ruins after swollen rivers swept through towns and villages in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“It was terrible not to able to help the people. They were waving at us out of the windows. Houses were collapsing to the left and right of them and in the house between they were waving,” Frank Thel, a resident of Schuld, told Reuters in front of a pile of rubble in the town, where several buildings had collapsed. “We were lucky, we survived,” he said.

In Germany alone, more than 90 people have died in what is the country’s worst mass loss of life in years. That number was feared to rise further as more houses collapsed, while in Belgium media said the death toll was at least 14.

“The water had such enormous power! We were in the house, it blew the door open and I was thrown against the chimney- stove. That’s how much pressure the water had when filling the house,” Thel said of the shock in the night that changed everything for them.

“It just went so fast. We just couldn’t save anything. The water came so fast, I’ve never seen anything like that. We were on the bridge down there and I thought, this might be getting tight, and then it was over, the water rose and rose continually, and I realized, it’s useless now to try save anything. Car, gone, all gone, digger, gone, it was all gone.”

The Infrastructure has been destroyed completely, roads washed away, the sanitation system submerged and phone and internet networks are either completely down or instable, meaning lots of people cant be traced or accounted for.

“Here in Schuld the question today is: What can be cleared here now? Can we restore roads? Bridges have collapsed, making areas difficult to access. The infrastructure with water, electricity and the sanitation supply etc is difficult. We have to rebuild them. This has already happened here in Schuld. Downstream in Insul, people had to be evacuated yesterday and we still have to rebuild the infrastructure there,” firefighter Andreas Solheid, of the fire-fighter association of Adenau municipalities said.

In the neighbouring Ahrweiler district in North Rhine-Westphalia, around 1,300 people were missing the district government said on Facebook.

Mobile phone networks have collapsed in some of the flood-stricken regions, which means that family and friends are unable to track down their loved ones.

Further north, in Erftstadt near Cologne, several houses collapsed on Friday morning, and rescue crews were struggling to reach residents by boat. Roads around the town Erftstadt were impassable as they were washed out in the floods.

It was not clear whether there were any casualties as rescuers had to rely on walkie-talkies to relay information.

One dam close to the Belgian border, the Rurtalsperre, flooded, while another, the Steinbachtalsperre, was stabilised early on Friday. Some 4,500 people have been evacuated from communities downstream, and a stretch of the A61 motorway has been closed amid fears of a breach.

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Moscow in talks with IEA’s leaders about visit to Russia

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Moscow is discussing a possible visit by a delegation of the Taliban-appointed government to Russia with Kabul, the RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry source as saying on Friday, Reuters reported.

Separately, RIA quoted Taliban deputy culture and information minister Zabiullah Mujahid as saying that Kabul was seeking such contacts, Reuters report said.

This comes after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has urged the international community to refrain from putting unnecessary pressure on the new Afghan government.

Speaking at an event on Thursday in Kabul, Mutaqi warned that if a country “pursues enmity with Afghanistan instead of friendship”, it will face the resistance of Afghans.

Muttaqi also called for the establishment of neutral political relations.

“Afghanistan is not the country it was 20 years ago, and the world should not try to put pressure on it.

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Kabul residents praise IEA on law and order, but hope for jobs

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Kabul residents on Thursday praised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for their control of law and order, but concerns over job prospects and economic issues remain prevalent.

“Law and order is better under this government than under the previous government, that useless government, but they must work towards getting jobs for the people. They should pay attention to the economy, the unemployment situation,” said market porter Mohammad.

The IEA has asked to address world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week and nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Eventual U.N. acceptance of the ambassador of the IEA would be an important step in the new government’s bid for international recognition, which could help unlock badly needed funds for the cash-strapped Afghan economy.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the IEA’s desire for international recognition is the only leverage other countries have to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.

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IEA’s foreign minister calls for ‘neutral’ foreign relations

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has urged the international community to refrain from putting unnecessary pressure on the new Afghan government.

Speaking at an event on Thursday in Kabul, Mutaqi warned that if a country “pursues enmity with Afghanistan instead of friendship”, it will face the resistance of Afghans.

Muttaqi also called for the establishment of neutral political relations.

“Afghanistan is not the country it was 20 years ago, and the world should not try to put pressure on it.

“Afghanistan now has good relations with the rest of the world and the region and the pressure by some countries does not affect Afghanistan because it is not alone now,” said Muttaqi.

He also said strong economic ties between Afghanistan and the region would soon be established and that these would have a positive impact on the entire region.

At the same time, the foreign ministers of China and Pakistan, on the sidelines of the UN summit, called for the lifting of economic sanctions on the Afghan government.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the Pakistani foreign minister said that the world had no choice but to engage with the new Afghan government and recognize it.

“If they live up to those expectations, they would make it easier for themselves, they will get acceptability, which is required for recognition,” Shah Mahmood Hussein Qureshi told the AP.

“At the same time, the international community has to realise: What is the alternative? What are the options? This is the reality, and can they turn away from this reality?”

Qureshi said Pakistan “is in sync with the international community” in wanting to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan with no space for terrorist elements to increase their foothold, and for the Islamic Emirate to ensure “that Afghan soil is never used again against any country”.

“But we are saying, be more realistic in your approach,” Qureshi said. “Try an innovative way of engaging with them. The way that they were being dealt with has not worked.”

But some other countries, including Germany, have opposed the presence of a representative of the Islamic Emirate at the UN summit. German foreign minister said the new Afghan officials needed to show in practice that they were complying with international law.

“Unfortunately, since August 15, life has become very difficult for everyone: financial situation, poverty, level of violence, level of poverty, level of fear, level of losses are increasing day by day. We are not the women of 2001, we are not the women of the 90s. If they [Islamic Emirate] really want to rule and lead in Afghanistan, they cannot rule without [the participation of] the 50 percent of Afghanistan, women,” said Zarifa Ghafari, a women’s rights activist.

This comes after the IEA asked to address world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week and nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador.

Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi made the request in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, Reuters reported

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