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Nine in 10 Afghans are not consuming enough food: WFP

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2021)

Ninety-three percent of Afghan families are not consuming sufficient food, the World Food Programme said on Friday.

WFP also said three out of four households are using extreme coping mechanisms, such as skipping meals or preferring to give food to children instead of adults.

The WFP conducted a telephone survey from June 17 to September 5, asking 1,600 random households per month about their food habits. The agency reported a “marked difference” between the period up to the August 15 and then following August 20.

“The portion of families resorting to extreme coping mechanisms, those are things like skipping meals or preferring to give food to children instead of adults or limiting portion sizes to make food last longer had almost doubled”, WFP’s deputy regional director for Asia and the Pacific, Anthea Webb said.

Afghanistan is facing economic collapse after foreign countries and institutions said they would withhold aid and monetary reserves after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan took control of Kabul last month.

“It’s now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most. We need to be reaching nine million people per month by November if we are to meet our planned target of 14 million by the end of the year,” Webb said, urging donors to fill the 200 million dollars’ appeal ahead of an international aid conference for Afghanistan on September 13.

Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before the Islamic Emirate took control and millions may now face starvation with the country isolated and the economy unraveling, aid agencies reported.

“People do not have access to the money they need to buy food, food prices have gone up, fuel prices have gone up. There simply is an inability for the poorest people and very soon the not so poor people to be able to buy enough food to survive”, Webb said.

Malnutrition already affects one in two children under the age of five in Afghanistan, where 14 million people or one-third of the population faces “acute food insecurity,” the WFP says.

Its latest assessment says that 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces showed less food consumption in the last month, the worst-hit being Ghazni, Khost, and Paktika in the east.

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Pakistan’s customs agent says exports to Afghanistan dwindle

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Hundreds of trucks lined the winding, mountainous road leading to Torkhum, the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing on Thursday.

Pakistani officials say that is because exports to Afghanistan have dwindled in the days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) take over.

But some truck drivers were upbeat because they said the vegetable and fruit season in Afghanistan had helped increase exports of these items from the war-ravaged country.

Another Pakistani official at another Pakistan-Afghan border Chaman said trade had picked up because the IEA government had reduced taxes, and also put an end to bribes that traders and truck drivers had to pay to cross the border.

Afghan new government bolstered its economic team last week, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new government, prices for staples like flour, fuel, and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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IEA’s defence minister orders crackdown on abuses

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting new defence minister has issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters following the IEA’s victory over the Western-backed government in Afghanistan last month, saying abuses would not be tolerated, Reuters reported.

According to the report Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said in an audio message that some “miscreants and notorious former soldiers” had been allowed to join Taliban units where they had committed a range of sometimes violent abuses.

“We direct you keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you,” he stated. “We don’t want such people in our ranks.”

The message from one of the IEA’s most senior ministers underlines the problems Afghanistan’s new rulers have sometimes had in controlling fighting forces as they transition from an insurgency to a peacetime administration, the report said.

Some Kabul residents have complained of abusive treatment at the hands of IEA forces who have appeared on the streets of the capital, often from other regions and unused to big cities.

There have also been reports of reprisals against members of the former government and military or civil society activists, despite promises of an amnesty by the IEA.

Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorized executions, and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

“As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone,” he said.

Reuters said that it was not clear precisely which incidents he was referring to, nor what prompted the message, which was published on IEA Twitter accounts and widely shared on social media.

There have been reports of tensions within the IEA between hardline battlefield commanders and political leaders more willing to seek compromise with governments outside Afghanistan, report said

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