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Leaked documents indicate embezzlement of Parwan’s COVID budget

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2021)

Documents leaked to Ariana News show that more than one million Afghanis (about $13,000) of the dedicated COVID-19 budget has been embezzled in Parwan province.

The documents indicate that the cost of health-related items recorded was double that of the actual purchase price. 

Chlorine powder was purchased for 405 Afghanis per kilogram, while studies show that the actual price is 350 Afghanis per kilo.

The documents revealed that 433,316 Afghanis too much was paid for 2,380 cases of surgical gloves; 307,692 AFs too much was spent on personal protective equipment (PPE); and the province paid double for handwash. 

Officials also paid too much for vitamin D ampoules, plastic bowls, thermometers and medical masks. 

According to the documents, the total difference against the actual prices of the goods was 1,137,094 Afghanis. 

While the provincial governor and the health director deny that the money was embezzled, the Attorney General’s Office has announced it will conduct a thorough investigation into the issue. 

“The issue of corruption in the special budget in the fight against coronavirus in Logar, Khost, Parwan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Bamyan and Daikundi provinces has been sent to the Attorney General’s Office and is under investigation,” said Jamshid Rasouly, AGO spokesman.

According to regulations around curbing the spread of the virus in the country, provincial governors have the authority to spend up to five million Afghanis on necessary medical items. 

However, according to a source, the governor of Parwan has already used eight million Afghanis. 

“In the coronavirus budget section, we had appointed a delegation, under the leadership of the deputy governor, and civil society which could look into the matter. We are accountable to all institutions,” Parwan’s provincial governor Fazluddin Ayar said.

But a researcher from Integrity Watch Afghanistan Nasir Temori said: “The national budget has been wasted due to the lack of regulatory bodies.” 

However, the governor of Parwan, the director of health, the head of pharmacy, the director of procurement, the director of remittances, the chief of the provincial hospital and several others have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office on charges of corruption.

It is not only the officials of Parwan province who have been accused of embezzling COVID-19 funds. Governors and officials of several other provinces have also been accused of embezzlement.

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Three killed in attack on slain Ghor journalist’s family

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2021)

Three family members of the slain journalist Bismillah Adil Aimaq were killed by unknown armed men in Ghor province, sources said Friday.

The armed men stormed the house of Bismillah Adil, a journalist and civil society activist in Ghor and former head of Radio Sada-e-Ghor was gunned down in Feroz Koh city on January 1, late on Thursday night.

Sources said Adil’s brother was wounded in the attack.

The family members of Adil were transferring his brother to the hospital when they were ambushed about eight kilometers from the provincial capital of Chaghcharan city by assailants in the area, his relatives said.

Three family members – Adil’s brother, 12-year old sister, and his nephew – were killed and four others were also wounded in the attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Aimaq’s family.

This comes as targeted attacks against journalists, media workers, and civil activists have been increased in recent months.

The majority of the attacks remain unclaimed.

Earlier this week, Khalil-ur-Rahman Narmgui, former head of the journalists union in Baghlan, was shot dead in the Sarak-e-Panj area in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district while he was on his way to Pul-e-Khumri city of Baghlan province.

NAI, a media advocacy group, said in a statement that eight journalists have been assassinated in the past few months.

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Mohib says UN sanctions on Taliban to help strengthen peace efforts

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2021)

National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said that UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on the Taliban could help to strengthen the peace efforts in Afghanistan. 

 In a video call meeting with members of the UN Sanction Committee, Mohib briefed the UNSC’s 1988 sanctions on the Taliban.

“NSA Hamdullah Mohib briefed the UN Security Council’s 1988 Sanctions Committee, which oversees the implementation of UN sanctions on the Taliban. The NSA congratulated India for assuming Committee chairmanship and acknowledged new UNSC members India, Norway, Ireland, Kenya, and Mexico,” Mohib’s office tweeted.

Mohib stated that the Taliban has “used unprecedented violence against Afghan state and society.”

Mohib said the Taliban has also abused “the privilege of travel exemptions to dodge talks, and broken promises not to enlist released convicts for terrorism.”

He noted that UN sanctions are vital in enforcing “conditionality” on the Taliban to decline their violence in the country.

The NSA said Afghanistan will work with all its key partners and Security Council members to ensure that sanctions tools are used for “their intended purpose of supporting peace by helping Afghanistan encourage peaceful behavior and deter violent activity by the Taliban.”

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Germany committed to Afghan peace process, German minister says

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2021)

The German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Friday that Germany is committed to the Afghan peace process.

The German defense minister arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning for an unannounced visit to Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where the majority of German troops are stationed.

Annegret’s visit comes after the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the country until January 31, 2022, Deutsche Welle reported.

During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Afghanistan “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”

She added that the German soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she said.

“We stand ready to continue to support the peace process. The protection of our soldiers has a very high priority in view of the security situation, and all necessary measures are taken together with our partners,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Berlin’s goal remained an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that no final decision had been made on the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan – despite the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing “many dilemmas” over its continued engagement in the country.

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

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