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‘Impossible to Gain Power in Afghanistan through Violence’: Abdullah

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(Last Updated On: December 18, 2018)

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says some elements seek to gain power in Afghanistan through violence which he believes is “impossible”, without naming an individual or group.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the World Refugee Day on Tuesday, Abdullah said that some individuals sabotage the Afghan peace process and that seeking their interest in the ongoing conflict.

“Some want to take power through violence, and impose their own system, is it possible in this country?” he said. “What it indicates when you repeatedly refuse to negotiate?”

At the event, the Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi said that about 89,000 Afghans refugees returned to their homeland, adding 16,000 of them were holding registration documents from Iran and Pakistan and that 793,000 more have no refugee documents.

Balkhi, meanwhile, said that the ministry has formed a committee to identify and arrest human-traffickers.

“More than 100 groups of human-traffickers have been arrested and some of them even sentenced to prison and death penalty,” he said.

Some analysts believe the government does not have an effective plan to pave the way for repatriation of the Afghan refugees and that poor economic situation has forced thousands of Afghans to leave the country.

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COVID-19: AFC 2022 World Cup qualifiers postponed to 2021

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Wednesday that the qualifying matches in Asia for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 have been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA and AFC in a joint statement said that the Asian qualifiers matches scheduled to take place in October and November 2020 will be rescheduled to 2021.

“In light of the current COVID-19 situation in many countries, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have jointly decided that the upcoming qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, originally scheduled to take place during the international match windows in October and November 2020, will be rescheduled to 2021,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the matches were postponed to make sure all participants are protected from contracting the Coronavirus.

“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” read the statement. 

The AFC further said that it will announce new dates for the next round of the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Asian Cup 2023 in the coming days.

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Polio vaccination campaign resumes after rise in cases reported

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Polio immunization campaigns have resumed in Afghanistan after a three-month break due to COVID-19, which in turn has seen an increase in polio cases in the country. 

UNICEF reported on Tuesday that as a result of the suspension of the immunization campaign, reported polio cases have reached 34 in Afghanistan and 63 in Pakistan, including in some previously polio-free parts of the country.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the last two polio-endemic countries in the world. Last year, Afghanistan recorded a total of 26 cases for 2019. 

UNICEF said on Tuesday, the polio immunization program restarted in Afghanistan in three provinces in July. 

A second program is scheduled to start this month. 

 “These life-saving vaccinations are critical if children are to avoid yet another health emergency,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. 

“As the world has come to see only too well, viruses know no borders and no child is safe from polio until every child is safe.”

Polio is a highly infectious, crippling and sometimes fatal disease that can be avoided with a vaccine. Children under the age of five are particularly vulnerable. 

Child vaccination drives, including polio campaigns, were halted in both Afghanistan in March in order to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission to children, caregivers and vaccinators themselves. 

The application of new vaccination guidelines and the use of protective equipment by frontline health workers will help ensure that vaccination campaigns resume safely.

However, UNICEF stated that while every effort will be made to reach children nationwide the organization is concerned that up to one million children in Afghanistan could miss out as door-to-door vaccinations are not possible in some areas and parents will have to make their way to health clinics to have their child vaccinated. 

“Although we have experienced new challenges and a set-back in the fight against polio because of COVID-19, the eradication of this contagious disease will get back on track and is firmly within our reach,” said Jean Gough. 

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Afghan Sikh’s evacuation flight to Delhi postponed over ‘security concerns’

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Wednesday’s evacuation flight from Kabul to Delhi for 180 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus has been postponed for a week or so, the Times of India reported early Wednesday morning. 

An Afghan Sikh leader who wished to remain anonymous told the Times: “I don’t think there could be any other reason for the postponement of the flight other than security concerns.”

The Times reported that Indian intelligence sources said: “Nobody want to make much hullabaloo about Afghan Sikhs and Hindus leaving the country as it could expose them to further attacks by militants.”

This was the second group of as many as 700 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus expected to leave Afghanistan after appealing to the Indian government for help following the March attack, by Daesh, on a Gurdwara in Kabul which killed 25 Sikhs.

The March attack on the Gurdwara was not the first time the minority group had been targeted by Daesh in Afghanistan. 

In 2018, 17 Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leaders were killed by Daesh militants in Jalalabad. 

At the time, the community leaders had been on their way to meet President Ashraf Ghani. 

The ongoing threats and attacks by Daesh against this small community, which number only about 700, led a group of Sikh activists in the United States to take up their cause and even appealed to the United Nations to help evacuate the Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. 

India has since stepped in to help and last month welcomed the first group of 11, including children. 

During the 1980s the Sikh and Hindu community numbered more than 80,000 but most left the country when the Soviet Union was ousted in 1992. 

Some returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted from power in the hope that things would improve. 

The Afghan government had encouraged their return but the community has faced vicious attacks claimed by Daesh during the past few years. Today, less than 700 live in their home country.

 

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