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ICRC calls for restraint as health centers come under intense pressure

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2021)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk as fighting intensifies in and around the cities of Kunduz, Lashkargah, Kandahar and other cities in Afghanistan.

The ICRC has called on all parties to the conflict to exercise immediate restraint, protect civilians and protect critical infrastructure such as hospitals from attacks and casualties resulting from conflict in densely populated areas.

According to a statement issued by the ICRC, as of August 1, at least 4,042 people injured in the war have been treated at 15 health centers assisted by the ICRC, this indicating the severity of the recent violence.

“We are witnessing the destruction of homes, the endangerment of health workers and the sick, the damage to hospitals, as well as water and electricity infrastructure,” said Eloi Fillion, head of ICRC’s central office in Afghanistan.

“The use of explosive weapons in cities has far-reaching implications for civilians beyond their intended purpose. Mortar shells and rockets hit civilian homes without separation. Many families have no choice but to flee to find a safe place. This situation must end,” said Fillion.

Street clashes in Kunduz, Lashkargah and other cities have injured scores of civilians in recent days, while health centers are under intense pressure due to injuries and a lack of staff, the statement read.

Electricity has been cut off in several disputed cities, and water supply networks are struggling in some areas. Most families try to leave those areas, but they cannot because they do not find the vehicles or do not have the funds, the statement said.

The ICRC and its affiliate, the Afghan Red Crescent, are trying their best to evacuate the wounded and the bodies of those killed in the conflict. In July alone, the ICRC assisted with 13,000 war wounded across the country, a number that appears to be rising due to the escalation of fighting in populated areas of the country.

“Health care centers, health workers and ambulances must be safe at all costs. We continue to urge all parties involved to allow humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent Society to evacuate the wounded safely and to provide assistance to people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” Fillion said.

Meanwhile Doctors without Borders (MSF) said that a rocket exploded in the compound of MSF Boost hospital in Lashkargah city, capital of Helmand province on Monday.

The explosion was very close to our Emergency Room, and it could have been much worse, MSF tweeted.

According to MSF the Emergency-NGO hospital, next door to them was also hit by a rocket, but there were no injuries at either facility.

The organization stated: “MSF reminds all warring parties that MSF hospital is operational, saving patients’ lives & protected under international humanitarian law. Even during conflict medical facilities must be protected at all times.”

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Russia-led bloc concludes drills near Afghan border to boost Tajik security

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

A Russia-led military exercise held over six days near the Tajik-Afghan border, designed to demonstrate Moscow stands ready to protect Dushanbe in the event of an incursion from the south, reached its conclusion on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Tajikistan’s relations with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] leadership in Kabul have been strained from the start and reports of troop build-up on both sides of the border have alarmed Moscow, which operates a military base in the former Soviet republic.

According to the report the exercise, carried out by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which also includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, involved over 4,000 troops as well as tanks, artillery and assault aircraft.

“This is the first time an event of this scale is being held,” Tajik Defence Minister Sherali Mirzo told reporters at the site.

CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas said the war games were aimed at showing “that no incursions into Tajikistan’s territory will be allowed,” adding “we will not leave Tajikistan alone in the face of danger.”

Millions of Tajiks live in Afghanistan, comprising its second largest ethnic group, and Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon has criticised the predominantly IEA for failing to set up an ethnically diverse cabinet.

The IEA has forged an alliance with an ethnic Tajik militant group seeking to overthrow Rakhmon, according to Russian media reports.

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Despite Doha deal mistrust between US and IEA still exists: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: October 23, 2021)

Zalmay Khalilzad, former US special envoy for Afghanistan, says that despite the signing of the February 2020 Doha agreement between the US and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), there is still an “atmosphere of mistrust” between the two sides.

In an interview with an American media outlet, Khalilzad said that because of America’s distrust, they still need to monitor the IEA’s performance, despite their assurances.

“Well, as I have mentioned before, the main problem right now is that we don’t trust them [IEA]. So the important thing is that what they say should not be trusted. Because of American disbelief in what the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) say and do, especially in relation to terrorism, they need to monitor the group’s work.”

In response to the possibility of the IE not adhering to the principles of women’s rights and girls education, Khalilzad said that there could be a difference of opinion among the leaders of the Islamic Emirate on this matter.

“I think there is disagreement among the leaders of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) regarding the education of girls; we cannot say that all the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) are of the same opinion. Currently, in three to four provinces of Afghanistan, school gates are open to girls above the sixth grade,” Khalilzad added.

His comments come just days after he stepped down as special envoy after leading the US team through the peace process with the IEA and the former government.

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Biden approves $976 million for refugees in US including Afghans

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(Last Updated On: October 23, 2021)

US President Joe Biden on Friday approved the use of up to $976.1 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to meet unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs, including for additional relecations of individuals at risk “as a result of the situation in Afghanistan”.

In a memorandum to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden said it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance of an amount not to exceed $976.1 million for the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs to support Operation Allies Welcome and related efforts by the Department of State.

He said it is also to include additional relocations of individuals at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan and related expenses.

“Such assistance may be provided on a bilateral or multilateral basis as appropriate, including through contributions to international organizations and through funding to other nongovernmental organizations, governments, and United States departments and agencies.” he said.

The US evacuated at least 65,000 Afghans at the end of August, according to numbers provided by the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

The White House earlier said however that it was expecting to resettle up to 95,000 Afghans in the US, the majority of whom arrived by the end of September after spending time in third countries while being processed.

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