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Ghani addresses special UN session on fight against COVID-19

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(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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CSTO ready to ensure its security given situation at borders

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2022)

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is prepared to ensure the security of its borders amid growing insecurity in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to a joint statement by the CSTO leaders that was adopted at the organization’s summit in Moscow on Monday and posted on the Kremlin’s website.

“The situation in Afghanistan and on other external frontiers of the CSTO member-states is alarming,” the statement said.

“In connection with this, we express readiness to maintain security at the borders within the CSTO’s zone of responsibility.”

The meeting was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon – the leaders of all six member states of the group.

The Collective Security Treaty was signed on May 15, 1992 in Tashkent.

Despite CSTO members’ concerns, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, says that security is ensured throughout Afghanistan and that no opposition group is active enough to be considered a threat to the security of other countries.

According to the Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan’s borders are more secure than ever and countries should not worry about this.

“Afghanistan’s borders are now more secure than ever, and Afghan territory will not be used against any country,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

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India hosting key SCO anti-terror meeting

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) anti-terror body Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) representatives came together Monday for the start of a three-day meeting in New Delhi.

Among those attending is a three-member Pakistani delegation that arrived in India on Saturday via the Wagah border.

The situation in Afghanistan and the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country is expected to be on the agenda.

According to Indian media reports, New Delhi is also expected to raise issues regarding the security situation in Afghanistan.

The RATS is the Executive Committee of the SCO, headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which is a permanent unit of the organisation which serves to promote cooperation of member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

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IEA says girls’ schools will reopen soon

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), and deputy minister of the IEA’s Ministry of Information and Culture, said progress has been made at a meeting of religious scholars and girls’ schools would reopen soon.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul on Sunday Mujahid said: “Good progress has been made at the meeting of the country’s scholars regarding the reopening of girls’ schools and other major political issues, and girls’ schools will be reopened in the near future.”

He said that the meeting, attended by tribal leaders and influential people of the country, is focusing on major political, security and social issues.

“The Ulema are consulting on the reopening of girls’ schools, and progress will be made soon,” said Mujahid.

Meanwhile, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate, said on Wednesday that a meeting of religious scholars would be held to discuss the issue of girls going to school.

The closure of girls’ schools above the sixth grade sparked a major outcry around the world with the international community repeatedly calling for schools to reopen.

Officials at the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Emirate have said that they will reopen girls’ schools in the near future within the framework of Islamic principles.

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