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Taliban ‘prevents’ 3.5 million children from getting polio vaccine

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

More than 3.5 million children have been deprived of anti-polio vaccinations due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban in several provinces, the Ministry of Public Health claimed Saturday.

The Ministry stated that the Taliban’s restrictions on the house-to-house vaccination campaign has increased from three to ten percent of homes in the last three years.

Mirjan Rasikh, head of the Polio Eradication Program said: “Although the Taliban promised to cooperate in implementing the vaccine, they have prevented it more so than in the past.”

“Children in Paktia and Maidan Wardak have missed the immunity doses against the polio virus due to the Taliban’s restrictions,” Rasikh said.

The vaccination campaign began last week.

The Taliban not only failed to cooperate with the process but also prevented thousands of children from getting the vaccine in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, Takhar, Paktika, and Paktia provinces, the Public Health Ministry said.

A number of civil society activists in eastern provinces have meanwhile called on the Taliban to allow the vaccination campaign to be implemented in areas under their control.

“The Taliban prevented the campaign in areas under their control. We asked them to allow the children to get the vaccine,” Sayeed Jamal Asifkhel, a Paktia civil society activist stated.

Meanwhile, children in Bamiyan, Daikundi, and Ghor provinces also missed out on the vaccine program as healthcare workers were prevented from rolling out the vaccines due to poor weather conditions.

In November last year, the Taliban announced that the group would cooperate in implementing the vaccination campaign, but later the group’s spokesman told Ariana News that the campaign was stopped due to what he put down to “abuses” during the vaccination process.

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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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