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Rights watchdog calls for financial restricts on Afghanistan to be eased

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

Amnesty International has called on the international community to ease financial restrictions on Afghanistan that are blocking the provision of healthcare, food and other essential services, and expedite delivery of scaled-up humanitarian assistance to avert a mounting crisis that threatens the lives of tens of millions of people.

In a statement issued by the organization on Tuesday, the organization said the suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghan government assets, and international sanctions on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) have plunged a country already suffering from high poverty levels into a full-blown economic crisis.

“Current levels of humanitarian assistance are insufficient to deal with the crisis, with millions of Afghans plunging into poverty and facing the risk of starvation. We have seen countries making pledges and promises to provide aid to Afghanistan over recent months, but this support is yet to reach those who need it the most,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director.

“In just a few months, the situation is already critical. People in the public and private sectors have not been paid their salaries, can’t access money, and can’t afford even essential items.

“Afghanistan is at the precipice – without an urgent program of targeted international support and without permitting the use of Afghanistan government reserves to support the country’s population, the scene is set for a human catastrophe over the coming months.”

With the IEA remaining on lists of internationally sanctioned groups, Afghanistan’s foreign donors have moved to withhold and withdraw funding from the country.

The situation has left the country’s banking system on the brink of collapse. Long queues have formed outside banks and ATMs, which are not dispensing cash. The price of goods has soared while the country’s currency has plummeted in value.

In August, the Biden administration froze $9.5 billion assets. The EU followed suit on August 17, withdrawing $1.4 billion in development and emergency aid to Afghanistan’s healthcare, agriculture and law enforcement sectors. The withdrawal of the EU funding precipitated the immediate closure of at least 2,000 health facilities serving around 30 million Afghans.

The IMF has frozen the IEA’s to $460 million of funds and other international institutions including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have also suspended payments to their projects in Afghanistan.

“Humanitarian aid and the use of public funds for essential services must not be politicized.

“Donor countries must urgently develop a comprehensive action plan for the dissemination of financial and humanitarian aid support in consultation with NGOs and other humanitarian agencies on the ground.

“This should include independent monitoring and enhanced periodic public reporting that ensures support reaches those who need it the most. At the same time, the Taliban (IEA) must cooperate in giving unrestricted access to UN agencies and humanitarian groups to do their work,” said Yamini Mishra.

“The international community’s top priority must be to prevent the deaths and suffering of people in Afghanistan and protect their human rights.”

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Islamic countries to meet on Afghanistan crisis on Dec. 19

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign minister called on Saturday for a fresh effort to stop neighboring Afghanistan sliding further into crisis as he announced an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) later this month. 

The meeting of foreign ministers from Islamic countries will be held in Islamabad on Dec. 19, with delegations from the European Union and the so-called P5 group of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China also invited.

“To abandon Afghanistan at this stage would be a historic mistake,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad, warning that half the country was facing the risk of starvation that could trigger further chaos.

“Instability could give way to renewed conflict, it could trigger an exodus of refugees,” he said.

There have been growing warnings of the humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan since international aid was abruptly cut following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover on Aug. 15 and fears of disaster if the situation is not brought under control.

However, getting help in has been hindered by sanctions on dealing with the IEA, the U.S. decision to freeze billions of dollars of central bank reserves held outside Afghanistan and the collapse of much of the country’s banking system.

Pakistan recently agreed to allow 50,000 tonnes of wheat to transit through its territory from India to help Afghanistan but aid agencies have warned that much more help is urgently needed.

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Pakistan to let Afghan trucks transport wheat from India to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s has allowed India to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines through Wagah as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, the Pakistani government said in a statement Saturday.

“With a view to further facilitate Pakistan’s decision to allow transportation of 50,000 MT of wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes, it has been decided to also allow the use of Afghan trucks for transportation from Wagah border to Torkham,” read the statement.

“This demonstrates the commitment and seriousness of the Government of Pakistan to facilitate the proposed humanitarian assistance.”

The statement noted that the decision was conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India on Saturday at the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs adding that “the Indian government was also urged to proceed quickly to take necessary steps to expeditiously undertake the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.”

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France, Europeans working to open joint mission in Afghanistan: Macron

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Several European countries are working on opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan that would enable their ambassadors to return to the country, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

Western countries have been grappling with how to engage with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) after they took power in Afghanistan in mid-August.

The United States and other Western countries shut their embassies and withdrew their diplomats when the previous government collapsed, following which the IEA declared an interim government whose top members are under U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

“We are thinking of an organisation between several European countries… a common location for several Europeans, which would allow our ambassadors to be present,” Macron told reporters in Doha before heading to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

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