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President Ghani Extends Ceasefire With Taliban

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(Last Updated On: June 16, 2018)

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday extended the unprecedented ceasefire with the Taliban insurgent group.

In an address to the nation, Ghani said that the ceasefire between the government and Taliban will be extended from the fourth day of Eid-al-Fitr.

He added that details of the extended ceasefire will be made public in the near future.

However, he called on governmental forces to be prepared to respond to any attack.

Meanwhile, the Afghan President asked the Taliban insurgent group to extend their three-day truce as well.

Instead, he promised that medical facilities and humanitarian aids will be provided to injured Taliban fighters during the truce.

According to President Ghani, the Attorney General’s Office has released 46 Taliban prisoners in the spirit of the ceasefire and Eid-al-Fitr on Friday.

He said the process will continue if Taliban gives a positive response for extension of the ceasefire.

Ghani asserted that his government is ready for comprehensive peace talks including the negotiations about the role of neighboring countries and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan offers to host ‘urgent’ OIC meeting on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Pakistan on Monday offered to host an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers meeting on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan that has been called for by Saudi Arabia.

“We have also offered to host the meeting, in Islamabad, on 17 December 2021. We are confident that OIC member states will endorse this offer,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to a statement issued by Said Arabia’s official news agency SPA, the kingdom said: “Guided by principles of Islamic solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as Chair of the Islamic Summit, and in line with relevant OIC decisions on Afghanistan, called upon the OIC to, urgently, convene an Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country and pathways for an urgent humanitarian response.”

The statement noted that the objectives of the meeting were to explore “means and mechanisms” for aid delivery in coordination with UN agencies, international financial institutions, and the international community for mitigating the humanitarian crisis.

“Impending economic collapse and further deterioration of living conditions will lead to more instability within Afghanistan, which will adversely affect regional and international peace and security,” the kingdom warned.

Pakistan’s Dawn News reported that Qureshi in turn stated that Afghans need assistance “more than ever before”.

“As you are aware, Afghanistan currently faces a serious humanitarian situation — millions of Afghans, including women and children, confront an uncertain future due to shortage of food, medicine and other essential life supplies. The advent of winter has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The foreign minister urged the OIC to step in to help Afghans. “We should step up our collective efforts to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, provide immediate and sustained support to them, and continue to remain engaged with them for the well-being and prosperity of Afghanistan,” he said.

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Five wounded in Kabul explosion

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

At least five people including Islamic Emirate (IE) forces were wounded on Monday morning when a roadside mine detonated in PD7 along Darulaman Road.

The explosion took place at about 9.45am local time close to Habibia High School and the target appeared to have been a Hilux vehicle.

According to eyewitnesses, the explosion had been from a roadside mine and caused casualties.

Some eyewitnesses said the Hilux vehicle was being driven by IE forces at the time of the explosion.

An Ariana News reporter in the area said according to eyewitnesses at least five people were wounded in the explosion including IE forces.

Immediately after the explosion, IE forces cordoned off the area, and ambulances were seen arriving at the scene.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the explosion but ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan (ISIS-K), known locally as Daesh, have been responsible for a number of explosions in Kabul in recent months.

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World Bank works to redirect frozen funds for humanitarian aid only

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

The World Bank is finalizing a proposal to deliver up to $500 million from a frozen Afghanistan aid fund to humanitarian agencies, people familiar with the plans told Reuters, but it leaves out tens of thousands of public sector workers and remains complicated by U.S. sanctions.

Board members will meet informally on Tuesday to discuss the proposal, hammered out in recent weeks with U.S. and U.N. officials, to redirect the funds from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which has a total of $1.5 billion, Reuters reported.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty three months after the the former government collapsed.

Afghan experts said the aid will help, but big gaps remain, including how to get the funds into Afghanistan without exposing the financial institutions involved to U.S. sanctions, and the lack of focus on state workers, the sources said.

The money will go mainly to addressing urgent health care needs in Afghanistan, where less than 7% of the population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, they said.

For now, it will not cover salaries for teachers and other government workers, a policy that the experts say could hasten the collapse of Afghanistan’s public education, healthcare and social services systems.

They warn that hundreds of thousands of workers, who have been unpaid for months, could stop showing up for their jobs and join a massive exodus from the country.

The World Bank will have no oversight of the funds once transferred into Afghanistan, said one of the sources familiar with the plans. A U.S. official stressed that UNICEF and other recipient agencies would have “their own controls and policies in place.”

“The proposal calls for the World Bank to transfer the money to the U.N. and other humanitarian agencies, without any oversight or reporting, but it says nothing about the financial sector, or how the money will get into the country,” the source said, calling U.S. sanctions a major constraint.

While the U.S. Treasury has provided “comfort letters” assuring banks that they can process humanitarian transactions, concern about sanctions continues to prevent passage of even basic supplies, including food and medicine, the source added.

“We’re driving the country into the dust,” said the source. Crippling sanctions and failure to take care of public sector workers will “create more refugees, more desperation and more extremism.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed that Washington is working with the World Bank and other donors on how to use the funds, including potentially paying those who work in “critical positions such as healthcare workers and teachers.”

The spokesperson said the U.S. government remains committed to meeting the  critical needs of the  Afghan people, “especially across health, nutrition, education, and food security sectors … but international aid is not a silver bullet.”

Established in 2002 and administered by the World Bank, the ARTF was the largest financing source for Afghanistan’s civilian budget, which was more than 70% funded by foreign aid.

The World Bank suspended disbursements after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover. At the same time, Washington stopped supplying U.S. dollars to the country and joined in freezing some $9 billion in Afghan central bank assets and halting financial assistance.

One major problem is the lack of a mechanism to monitor disbursements of funds in Afghanistan to ensure Taliban leaders and fighters do not access them, a third source said.

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