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Obama stresses on financial assistances of donor countries to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2016)

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President Barack Obama has considered the financial assistances of the donor countries to Afghanistan a strong message of enduring commitment.

President Obama’s final NATO summit wrapped up  as a testament to stalled progress he sought on two fronts at his first alliance meeting seven years ago: a bolstered commitment to Afghanistan to allow the U.S. to wind down its role there, and the pursuit of “a constructive relationship with Russia,” as he put it in 2009.

Instead, the alliance is preparing for a mission in Afghanistan that will continue into a third decade, and its leaders detailed on Saturday an increased military presence in Eastern Europe in a bid to thwart continued Russian aggression.

” NATO will do more also to fight against terrorist networks. Every ally already contributes to the campaign against ISIL. Building on my decision to largely maintain the current U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan into next year, 39 nations, including the U.S., have committed more than 12,000 troops to NATO’s training mission.  And, in addition, some 30 nations have pledged upwards of $900 million to help sustain Afghan forces which is a very strong message of our enduring commitment to Afghanistan.”

Afghan security forces will carry on fighting against the Taliban, Islamic State and other terrorist groups with the support of the international community’s train, advise and assist mission.

The president acknowledged that history will record him as the first to serve two full terms with the nation at war.

But because U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have shifted from combat to training and assisting local forces against militant groups, they are “fundamentally different” from when he took office, Obama said. He acknowledged that against terrorist groups, the end of a conflict might not be as discrete as it once was, citing the example of Gen. Douglas MacArthur meeting with Japanese Emperor Hirohito at the end of World War II.

“Because they’re nonstate actors, it’s very hard for us ever to get the satisfaction of MacArthur and the emperor meeting and a war officially being over,” Obama said.

He did reiterate to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the U.S. was open to reconciliation talks with the Taliban, should the latter be open to returning to the negotiating table.

‘‘It was a clear message for the militants to lay down arms and join the peace process. Otherwise, the international community is committed to fighting them,’’ said Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry.

The support for the Afghan government would potentially affect the Taliban’s operational leadership. Waziri added, “The Taliban are losing hope as they learn that we are capable of fighting them.’’

The reality on the ground belied his optimism. The Taliban controls more territory in the country than it has since the U.S.-led invasion 15 years ago, according to U.N. estimates. And more than 5,500 Afghan troops were killed last year in combat with the Taliban that revealed significant shortcomings among Afghan security forces.

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Higher education will be open to men and women based on Sharia: Deputy PM

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2022)

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan, said Tuesday that “based on Sharia principles”, education opportunities should be provided for both men and women in the country.

In a meeting with Afghan university lecturers, Baradar stated that higher education is critical in terms of meeting the needs to develop the country.

He noted the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is in favor of providing education opportunities for Afghan “men and women based in Sharia principals.”

Baradar added that universities will resume normal classes soon.

Public universities have been closed since the sudden collapse of the former government of Afghanistan on August 15, last year.

Last week, Acting Higher Education Minister Mawlavi Abdul Baqi Haqqani also stated educational institutions would reopen soon.

Haqqani said the Ministry of Higher Education was committed to standardizing all educational institutions in the country and that private universities without licenses would no longer have the right to enroll new students.

He said efforts were being made to make Afghanistan’s education system competitive with the rest of the world. He also said scholarships for Afghan students have been discussed with officials from the Ministries of Higher Education of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and the European Union.

Haqqani reiterated that the country’s education system is based on the Islamic system and that all Sharia and Islamic laws must be observed at educational institutions.

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EU launches humanitarian projects in Afghanistan worth over $300 million

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2022)

In a bid to address the major humanitarian crisis Afghanistan is facing, the European Union has launched projects worth €268.3 million ($304 million) that focusses on maintaining education, sustaining livelihoods, and protecting public health.

According to a statement issued by the UN, the funding is being channelled through United Nations agencies working in Afghanistan and benefits the Afghan population directly.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “I am pleased that we are addressing basic human needs and supporting livelihoods under the clear parameters set out by the Foreign Affairs Council.

“The projects focus on health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, and education, in particular for women and girls. We are also supporting income generating activities, food security and local markets.

“We have reacted quickly to alleviate the suffering of the population and preserve a future for the Afghan people, especially women and youth,” said Urpilainen.

Seven EU projects, worth a total of €186 million, support health, education and livelihoods for Afghans and will be implemented through United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

A €50 million project implemented by UNICEF will provide around 194,000 public teachers nationwide with emergency cash support of around €90 per month for two months during the harsh winter time, the statement read.

Another €11 million project will ensure the provision of food at schools and to take home for boys and girls in primary school. For girls in secondary level, the EU will also support cash transfers for their households conditional on girls’ school attendance.

A €10 million project will improve testing, surveillance and hospital facilities to deal with COVID-19. This will be done in conjunction with the World Health Organization while a €25 million project will mitigate the health and nutrition effects of COVID-19 on women and children and will be done through UNICEF.

In addition to this, a €25 million project, implemented by UNICEF and the WHO, will allow for polio vaccine procurement and other measures and working with the WFP, the EU will increase food security, of €50 million, for around 450,000 persons.

Also, working with UNDP, a €15 million project will allow around 23,000 entrepreneurs, mainly women, to receive technical and/or financial support to develop and expand their businesses.

According to the statement, the EU has launched another five projects for a total of €79 million to address forced displacement and migration in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia.

The Afghan Children on the Move project will get €15 million; support to Afghan refugees and displaced people in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan will total €34 million; and a project for displaced Afghans in Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, and Afghanistan will total €15 million.

Support will also be given to vulnerable Afghans and host communities in Iran through a project, with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), totalling €14 million.

A €1 million project to enhance the capacities of Surkhandarya region in Uzbekistan to educate and train Afghan citizens will also be carried out and the EU will also increase its support to Afghan Human Rights Defenders at risk and Civil Society Organisations with two projects worth €3.3 million.

According to the statement, more projects in all these sectors are due to be launched in the coming months.

The new projects launched are a key milestone as part of the overall €1 billion EU support package announced by President Ursula von der Leyen in October last year.

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Kamal Khan Dam’s floodgates opened, sending water to Iran

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2022)

Iranian news outlets have reported that Afghan authorities on Wednesday opened two of the Kamal Khan Dam floodgates after good rainfall in the area.

According to IRNA news, the water released from the dam, which is on the Helmand River, is expected to start flowing into Iran’s Chah Nimeh lakes in 48 to 72 hours.

The four Chah Nimeh lakes supply the majority of water to Iran’s Sistan region.

Governor-General of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province Hossein Moddarres Khiabani said the region’s water reserves had dropped by 75% in recent months due to the ongoing drought.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Special Representative of the President for Afghanistan’s Affairs, meanwhile told Tasnim news: “I express my appreciation for the fulfillment of the promise made by the esteemed IEA officials to release Water right of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Kamal Khan Dam.”

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has not yet commented.

Kamal Khan Dam is located 95 km from Zaranj city, the capital of Nimruz province in Chahar Burjak district.

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