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Ghani addresses special UN session on fight against COVID-19

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: December 4, 2020)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday evening addressed the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 Pandemic and said government moved quickly to contain the virus after the first case was reported in Herat in February.

“The COVID 19 pandemic came to Afghanistan at the end of February via Herat province, which shares a border with Iran.

“We moved quickly in anticipation that the virus would hit us hard. After analysis and consultation with diverse groups across Afghan society, we planned the response to the pandemic according to five phases of the crisis—acknowledgement, diffusion, adversity, relief and recovery,” Ghani said adding that the virus peaked in June.

He said that because of Afghanistan’s quick response, the country managed to maintain relatively low mortality rates. “We managed our response to not jeopardize livelihoods in the long-term or increase already high levels of poverty and food insecurity.”

He said Afghanistan had learned a number of lessons through this – firstly that “the vast scale of the disruptive and destructive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming clearer by the day.”

He said short-term impacts were seen almost immediately which included the loss of lives, the loss of jobs, and the downturn in the economy.

“But the medium to long-term impacts, we have not yet fully grasped. So, while we cope with the immediate impact, we need to look ahead and prepare for the long-term effects,” he said.

The second lesson learned was that the impact of the pandemic has been global and that while the response has been mostly national, “we have been unable, as an international community, to fully take advantage of the interconnected nature of our work to combat the disease.”

He pointed out that the world had an opportunity to respond to the pandemic with a level of unity and solidarity but instead countries experienced divisions.

He said a global focal point would have made the response more effective and coordinated, and global resources should have been mobilized on a larger scale.

The third lesson learned was that the pandemic has not been a leveler as expected; but instead, it has exacerbated existing gaps and inequalities across developed and developing nations.

“Countries in special situations have been especially hard hit. For example, we as a poor country, like many others around the globe, were not able to design and implement effective stimulus packages.

“We also had to be very careful in instituting lockdowns to avoid inflicting serious damage on our economy and peoples’ livelihoods, which could have inflicted more suffering than the virus itself,” he said.

Ghani also pointed out that this will continue even once a vaccine becomes available, because administering a vaccine requires capabilities and infrastructure that poor countries do not have.

“The role of multilateral organizations in the joint distribution of the vaccine will be critical. Our call for the vaccine to be a global public good must be loud and clear.” he said.

Ghani also said that Afghanistan is now facing its second wave and with little understanding of how cold weather will affect the nature of the pandemic.

He said he hopes that the international community will be able to draw from the lessons learned through this second wave and that a clear, phased approach needs to be designed and replicated nationally, regionally and globally.

He did say that the world is in a better position now to plan to ensure food security and basic human security in the face of subsequent waves.

“We must make sure that supply chains that were disrupted during the first wave are either restored or alternatives put in place to ensure basic needs are met.”

He also said the pandemic has transformed the way the world does business and the way everyone now lives.

“But it’s not all negative. COVID pushed the digitalization of the world at a speed that was inconceivable. And moving into subsequent waves of the pandemic, we need to embrace digital technology to further a global dialogue around policy, accessing and distributing the vaccine. To take advantage of these technologies, more must, however, be done to address the digital divide.”

“We will not be able to return to our pre-pandemic ways of communicating and governing. The pandemic opened up new possibilities for coordination and cooperation; for example, tele-medicine and distance learning. We need to embrace this change.”

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Sharp rise in displaced families fleeing conflict: UN report

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

At least 330,000 people have been displaced in the last seven months due to an increase in conflict across Afghanistan, the UN reported Saturday.

“So far in 2021, 330,000 people have been displaced by conflict across Afghanistan. Another five million people remain displaced since 2012,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported.

According to the report, the fighting has also been reported in new areas in the northeast province of Kunar, displacing 20,000 people within the province, and Nangahar Province. 

“Nine UN and partner organizations’ teams are assessing needs in Kandahar. Last week, about 1,800 internally displaced people received food, relief items, and water and sanitation hygiene support as well as physiotherapy and cash assistance. In Kunar, UN and partner organizations are assessing needs and responding.

“Urgent needs include food, water, shelter, and health services,” the report said.

Maryam [not her real name] and her family are among an estimated 330,000 Afghans who have been newly displaced inside the country since the start of this year by an upsurge in violence. 

“There was war. Bombs were being dropped. My father was killed there, and a lot of my relatives were killed as well and we had to flee. I was responsible for my children and I didn’t want them to be killed. So, I came here with my elderly mother,” Maryam said.

“Our situation is very difficult. As you can see, we are all displaced. Our children need food. They would ask for anything, they are children, they don’t know whether we have it or not.”

“We want a normal life just like everyone else. I want my children to become something in Afghanistan, to become doctors, engineers, or something. That is my hope,” she stated.

As conflict intensifies in northern Afghanistan and other parts of the country, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned of an imminent humanitarian crisis, saying failure to reach a peace agreement will see further displacement. 

Fahim Hamdard, Senior Field Assistant, UN Refugee Agency, stated: “Over the last year, families have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, a devastating drought and now increased violence in the north and northeast regions is driving more people from their homes every day.”

Amid an overall increase in civilian casualties, the proportion of women and children affected by violence has risen sharply since January, adding to the toll Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict has taken on people like Maryam and her family. 

UNHCR and its partners are assisting newly displaced Afghans with emergency shelter, food, health care, water, and sanitation support, and cash assistance, but a shortage of funding means humanitarian resources are falling dramatically short.

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Nuristan death toll rises to over 113 following deadly flash floods

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

The death toll from last week’s flash floods in eastern Nuristan province has risen to 113, the Afghan Red Crescent Society said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the statement, 173 houses, 900 acres of agricultural land, 14 mills, eight bridges, one restaurant, 13 shops, four power stations, four vehicles and two military bases along with the drinking water system and 3,200 fruit trees were destroyed in the devastating floods that swept through Kamdesh district of the province of a Wednesday night.

“The Afghanistan Red Crescent Society, the only organization with access to Kamdesh, is sending a mobile health team and will provide temporary shelter,” the UN said in a statement.

The statement added that the UN is negotiating with a non-state armed group to get access to the area and will provide medical supplies, food, and other relief items.

“Afghan authorities will mobilize additional support from Kabul,” the statement added.

Sources said on Thursday the area was under Taliban control.

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EU envoy says aid will be cut if Taliban seize power militarily

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

Tomas Niklasson, Acting Special Envoy of the European Union for Afghanistan, says that the EU would not recognize a Taliban government if they manage a military takeover.

In an exclusive interview with Ariana News, Niklasson stated if the Taliban gain power through a military takeover the EU will cut its aid to Afghanistan and the country will be isolated.

“If the Taliban manage to take power by military means it would not be recognized by the EU, it would not be recognized by most countries in the region.”

“It would become an isolated regime and isolated Afghanistan,” he noted.

Niklasson also raised his concerns over the current situation in Afghanistan, calling on the warring parties to show flexibility in order to end the ongoing conflict in the country.

“We are clearly very very concerned by the situation. We try to do what we can to remain engaged in Afghanistan, to continue to provide development assistance, to remain engaged politically to provide humanitarian assistance as long as needed.”

The diplomat stated that the Taliban has no clear proposal in the peace talks with the Afghan Republic’s team. He added that the Taliban want to seek more concessions in the talks via their military campaign.

“The Taliban have not really put on the table a clear proposal of what they want and that is part of the negotiations and that will be a necessary next step,” he stated.

“If they put Islamic Emirate, the design of the 1990s or any Islamic Emirate on the table, no, it would not be acceptable but it could be a start for negotiation,” the EU Envoy said.

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