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Ghani, NATO Secretary-General discuss current situation in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 13, 2020)

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Thursday in a phone conversation with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the situation in Afghanistan including the Afghan peace process.

The Presidential Palace stated on Twitter that the two sides discussed, “the ongoing situation of Afghanistan, the peace process, and NATO’s support for the Afghan Defense and Security Forces.”

“Spoke with President Ashraf Ghani on the situation in Afghanistan where it has been a long and hard road towards the peace talks,” Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

Reiterating NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan’s security, the NATO Chief stated that the peace talks are “fragile but offer the best chance for peace.”

It comes as the US-brokered intra-Afghan peace talks have made little progress, and the two sides yet to resolved disputes over contentious issues.

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad Thursday met with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara to discuss regional developments.

“Discussed latest developments in Afghanistan peace process with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. Will continue our strong support to efforts aiming at peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted.

COVID-19

WHO pledges $112 million for COVID vaccines

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

The World Health Organization’s COVAX programme has pledged $112 million for COVID-19 vaccines to reach 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population, an Afghan health official said on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists, the deputy health minister, Waheed Majroh, said it would take about six months to get the vaccines.

The COVAX programme is a global scheme to vaccinate people in poor and middle income countries against the coronavirus and aims to deliver at least two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to cover 20 percent of the most vulnerable people in 91 poor and middle-income countries.

Reuters reported that aside from COVAX, the country has also received a pledge of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.

Dr Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, head of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at Afghanistan’s health ministry told Reuters that the “AstraZeneca brand which is manufactured in India will arrive soon in Afghanistan.”

Nazari said government was only concerned about the WHO approval of the vaccine and that the pre-qualification process has already started.

Afghanistan has registered a total of 54,854 infections and 2,390 deaths – but experts say the actual numbers are much higher and are underreported due to low testing and limited access to medical facilities in the war torn country.

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Ghani shares his concerns on polio problem with Bill Gates

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, held a video conference call on Monday night to discuss the polio situation in Afghanistan.

During the meeting the Gates and Ghani expressed their concerns over the surge in polio cases in Afghanistan due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban in areas under their control, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.

“The two sides also held a comprehensive discussion on reforming the polio vaccine implementation process and increasing facilities in this regard,” the statement read.

Bill and his wife Melinda run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding organization, and polio eradication is one of their top priorities.

The foundation contributes to technical and financial resources to accelerate targeted vaccination campaigns, community mobilization, and routine immunizations and assists in dealing with the disease in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The virtual meeting on Monday night comes after the Afghan Ministry of Public Health claimed this week that more than 3.5 million children have been deprived of anti-polio vaccinations due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban in several provinces.

The Ministry stated that the Taliban’s restrictions on the house-to-house vaccination campaign have increased from three to ten percent of homes in the last three years.

Mirjan Rasikh, head of the Polio Eradication Program said on this year’s campaign, which started just over a week ago that: “Although the Taliban promised to cooperate in implementing the vaccine, they have prevented it more so than in the past.”

“Children in Paktia and Maidan Wardak have missed the immunity doses against the poliovirus due to the Taliban’s restrictions,” Rasikh said.

The Taliban not only failed to cooperate with the process but also prevented thousands of children from getting the vaccine in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, Takhar, Paktika, and Paktia provinces, the Public Health Ministry said.

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Central Bank to replace old and damaged banknotes

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

Da Afghanistan Bank (Central Bank) said Tuesday that new banknotes are being printed and will be put into circulation in Afghanistan soon.

Addressing a press conference, the Bank’s General Manager for Payments Mir Aziz Baraki stated that the bank collects around 3.8 billion AFN worth of old and damaged banknotes from circulation each year and replaces them with new banknotes.

Baraki added that the bank would issue 380 million notes this year in the denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 AFN.

The official said an amount has already been printed and would be released into circulation soon.

There is an estimated 293 billion AFN (approximately $3.7 billion) in circulation in Afghanistan currently.

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