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International community calls on Taliban to stop spring offensive

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

The Special Envoys of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States on the Afghan Peace Process in a joint statement on Friday “strongly” condemned the continued violence in Afghanistan. 

The statement, which was issued following a virtual meeting of the international community envoys and the Taliban delegation, said that the Taliban are largely responsible for the continued violence, urging all warring parties to take immediate and necessary steps to reduce violence and in particular, “to avoid civilian casualties in order to create an environment conducive to reaching a political settlement.” 

The envoys called on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to the protection of civilians and urged all sides to immediately agree on steps that enable the successful implementation of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.

The envoy emphasized that durable peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through an inclusive, negotiated political settlement among Afghans.

The envoys affirmed their commitment to UNSC resolution 2513 (2020) and emphasized that they oppose the establishment in Afghanistan of any government by force which would constitute a threat to regional stability, the statement read.

The envoys highlighted “the need to accelerate the pace of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace negotiations and committed to work with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and other Afghan political and civil society leaders to reach a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement and political compromise that ends the war for the benefit of all Afghans and that contributes to regional stability and global security.”

This comes as the Taliban have intensified attacks across the country since the foreign troops’ officially begin to withdraw from Afghanistan on May 1.

The Taliban militants have captured the Dahla dam in Kandahar, the Shahr-e Kohna region of Baghlan-e Markazi district of Baghlan province, a security base in Ghazni, and a military base and three outposts in Laghman province during the last seven days.

The international community also called upon the Taliban “to stop their undeclared spring offensive, to refrain from attacks against civilians, and to stop immediately all attacks in the vicinity of hospitals, schools, universities, mosques and other civilian areas.”

The envoy also called for an immediate end to the campaign of targeted assassinations against civil society leaders, the clergy, journalists and other media workers, human rights defenders, healthcare personnel, judicial employees, and other civilians.

Meanwhile, the Taliban in a series of tweets that a powerful Islamic government is a need in Afghanistan that could maintain “women’s rights and freedom of speech.”

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Herat residents welcome much needed food parcels from Bayat Foundation

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Following the donation of food supplies in southern Kandahar province last week, the Bayat Foundation, an Afghan Charity Organization, has also stepped in to help desperate families in western Herat Province.

The foundation distributed food packages, which included cooking oil, flour, and rice, to dozens of vulnerable families this week.

Haji Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Chairman of the Bayat Foundation, said: “The Bayat Foundation has distributed aid in provinces. We already distributed to vulnerable people in Kandahar. Fortunately, we came here to Herat to distribute aid including flour, cooking oil, and rice to the most vulnerable and displaced people.”

“Inshallah, additional aid from us will be distributed to other zones and provinces as well,” he added.

Zarin Sultani, Head of Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) in Herat, which is working in coordination with the Bayat Foundation, stated: “A list (of other vulnerable families) will be prepared and will be handed over to a committee for assessment.”

“This list will be finalized and then the list will be shared with elders such as Haji Sahib Bayat and Haji Sahib Ismail; thereafter, aid will be provided to them (the families),” he said.

The recipients of the latest delivery expressed their gratitude for the food supplies and thanked the foundation.

Again, recipients appealed to other organizations to step forward with urgent humanitarian aid.

One Herat recipient said she was “very happy” to receive the food parcel as she was a widow with children.

“I am very happy for this aid. I have children and am widowed and there is no place to work,” she said.

Gul Ahmad, a recipient of Bayat Foundation’s aid was another grateful recipient. “We had nothing to cook for four or five days. I am going out [of the house for work] but cannot find any [job]. Now, I am very happy…for this aid that I received.”

The Bayat Foundation started helping needy families months ago and the organization plans to distribute aid to as many vulnerable people in other provinces as it can.

This comes amid a crushing economy that has put millions of Afghans at risk of starvation.

As winter looms, international organizations including the UN have warned of dire consequences unless Afghans get immediate help.

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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