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Ghani Sends Delegation to Hold Secret Meeting with Taliban in Doha

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(Last Updated On: November 11, 2019)

On Saturday November 9th, a source close to the Taliban told Ariana News, that a delegation from the Office of Afghanistan’s National Security Council has secretly travelled to Qatar, with the intention of meeting with the political representatives of the Taliban insurgent group.

Waheed Muzhda, a pro-Taliban political analyst who is familiar with the talks, said that the delegation will ask Taliban to announce a ceasefire in exchange for the release of their prisoners, including Anas Haqqani, a key member of the Haqqani Network.

According to Muzhda, President Ashraf Ghani’s delegation will also call on the Taliban to hold direct talks with Afghan government negotiators, during an intra-Afghan meeting that will be held in Beijing, in the near future.

However, Taliban leaders have not agreed to meet with Ghani’s visiting delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar, a source close to Taliban said. Currently, the Afghan delegation is meeting with Qatari officials.

The Taliban’s political office in Qatar has declined comment.

Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish on Friday said that the Afghan government is ready to release the Taliban prisoners in order to help promote confidence-building measures and create conditions for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Danish emphasized that the Taliban must show their desire for peace by agreeing to a ceasefire.

However, the Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan (ONSC) has rejected the report saying that, “No delegation from National Security Council of Afghanistan has been sent to any country to negotiate with the Taliban on any issue. We have always been very open and clear in any step taken towards the peace and dialogue.”

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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