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ICRC to strengthen ties with China in aiding Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will strengthen cooperation with China to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, especially in the health sector, said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, head of the ICRC’s Regional Delegation for East Asia, Reuters reported.

This comes amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan on the back of economic sanctions.

Kraehenbuehl said about 47 percent of the Afghan population faces food insecurity in one form or another and that because the flow of money into Afghanistan has dried up, institutions that crucially provide for the needs of the people are currently facing incredibly dire circumstances.

In an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) he said the ICRC is mobilizing all resources to help Afghanistan get through the humanitarian crisis it is currently facing, and approaching China is at the top of its agenda.

“We need about 150 million Swiss Francs or 160 million U.S. dollars until the end of 2022. We will mobilize support from states, and in that regard, we are approaching China and this is a priority for us. We welcome the fact that our partners in the Red Cross Society of China have come forward with the first financial support, which we are very grateful for, and we are now continuing the dialogue also with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We hope that there are avenues of cooperation that can open up,” said the official.

The ICRC representative also said that China has contributed a lot to improving medical conditions in Afghanistan, and that the organization is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with China in that regard.

A freight train, carrying 1,000-plus tons of humanitarian aid left the city of Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Saturday afternoon and headed for Mazar-e-Sharif, the fourth largest city in Afghanistan. It will take 12 days to get the winter clothes, cotton shoes, blankets, naan, and milk-tea powder, and other materials delivered, Reuters reported.

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Islamic countries to meet on Afghanistan crisis on Dec. 19

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign minister called on Saturday for a fresh effort to stop neighboring Afghanistan sliding further into crisis as he announced an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) later this month. 

The meeting of foreign ministers from Islamic countries will be held in Islamabad on Dec. 19, with delegations from the European Union and the so-called P5 group of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China also invited.

“To abandon Afghanistan at this stage would be a historic mistake,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad, warning that half the country was facing the risk of starvation that could trigger further chaos.

“Instability could give way to renewed conflict, it could trigger an exodus of refugees,” he said.

There have been growing warnings of the humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan since international aid was abruptly cut following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover on Aug. 15 and fears of disaster if the situation is not brought under control.

However, getting help in has been hindered by sanctions on dealing with the IEA, the U.S. decision to freeze billions of dollars of central bank reserves held outside Afghanistan and the collapse of much of the country’s banking system.

Pakistan recently agreed to allow 50,000 tonnes of wheat to transit through its territory from India to help Afghanistan but aid agencies have warned that much more help is urgently needed.

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Pakistan to let Afghan trucks transport wheat from India to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s has allowed India to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines through Wagah as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, the Pakistani government said in a statement Saturday.

“With a view to further facilitate Pakistan’s decision to allow transportation of 50,000 MT of wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes, it has been decided to also allow the use of Afghan trucks for transportation from Wagah border to Torkham,” read the statement.

“This demonstrates the commitment and seriousness of the Government of Pakistan to facilitate the proposed humanitarian assistance.”

The statement noted that the decision was conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India on Saturday at the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs adding that “the Indian government was also urged to proceed quickly to take necessary steps to expeditiously undertake the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.”

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France, Europeans working to open joint mission in Afghanistan: Macron

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Several European countries are working on opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan that would enable their ambassadors to return to the country, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

Western countries have been grappling with how to engage with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) after they took power in Afghanistan in mid-August.

The United States and other Western countries shut their embassies and withdrew their diplomats when the previous government collapsed, following which the IEA declared an interim government whose top members are under U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

“We are thinking of an organisation between several European countries… a common location for several Europeans, which would allow our ambassadors to be present,” Macron told reporters in Doha before heading to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

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