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Taliban says it controls 85% territory of Afghanistan

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

A Taliban delegation in Moscow said on Friday that the group controlled over 85% of territory in Afghanistan and reassured Russia it would not allow the country to be used as a platform to attack others.

Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Dilawar says they have “85% of Afghan soil under their control.”

Dilawar also said that the Taliban have controlled all 28 districts of Badakhshan province and only the provincial capital is not in their control. 

Foreign forces, including the United States, are withdrawing after almost 20 years of fighting, a move that has emboldened Taliban insurgents to try to gain fresh territory in Afghanistan.

That has prompted hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees to flee across the border into neighbouring Tajikistan and raised fears in Moscow and other capitals that Islamist extremists could infiltrate Central Asia, a region Russia views as its backyard.

At a news conference in Moscow on Friday, three Taliban members sought to signal that they did not pose a threat to the wider region however.

The members said the Taliban would do all it could to prevent Islamic State operating on Afghan territory and that it would also seek to wipe out drug production.

“We will take all measures so that Islamic State will not operate on Afghan territory… and our territory will never be used against our neighbours,” a Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said through a translator.

The same members said a day earlier that the group would not attack the Tajik-Afghan border, the fate of which is in focus in Russia and Central Asia.

All Afghan border towns taken over by the Taliban will remain active, says Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiator, at a press conference in Moscow. He vowed to address traders’ problems.

Moscow has noted a sharp increase in tensions on the same border, two thirds of which the Taliban currently controls, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s foreign ministry as saying on Friday.

Russia’s foreign ministry called on all sides of the Afghanistan conflict to show restraint and said that Russia and the Moscow-led CSTO military bloc would act decisively to prevent aggression on the border if necessary, RIA reported.

The Taliban delegation told the same news conference that the group would respect the rights of ethnic minorities and all Afghan citizens should have the right to a decent education in the framework of Islamic law and Afghan traditions.

“We want all representatives of Afghan society … to take part in creating an Afghan state,” said Delawar.

Dilawar says they are in talks with other Afghans to discuss a new system “that should be Islamic, Afghan-inclusive and united.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban negotiator Shaheen says that attacking provincial capitals was not part of an agreement with the US, adding that: “but we still did not attack, also we did not launch our spring offensive and it shows our commitment to the agreement.”

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Thousands take exams for Turkish-run schools in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

Thousands of Afghan students, including girls under grade 7, took entrance exams on Friday for a Turkish foundation in Kabul that runs some of Afghanistan’s most highly regarded schools.

As many as 3,600 students sat the highly competitive exams for the Afghan-Turk school system, Afghan-Turk School’s officials said.

“We want all girls to be educated. This is our president’s and our government’s wish and that of Afghans,” the Educational Councillor at Kabul’s Turkish Embassy, Changez Idmir, said at a news conference to mark the holding of the entrance tests.

Facing mounting global pressure, the IEA has said they will allow older girls to resume classes once arrangements are made to ensure they can do so in conformity with what the movement considers proper Islamic standards.

Afghan-Turk schools are regarded among the top schools in Afghanistan and admission is highly competitive.

Unofficially, many parts of the country have seen older girls restart classes, while officially the IEA says they are still working on a national system.

Ehsan Khateb, Head of Kabul Education Department, also attended the ceremony and thanked the Turkish government.

Afghan-Turk schools have had to make changes to their curriculum, shutting music, theatre, and dance departments at the request of IEA officials, the head of the Turkish educational foundation, Salleh Saghar, told Reuters.

The foundation respected the rules and culture of the host country, he said.

“Like the music, theatre, and dancing department … based on Taliban (IEA) requests we closed the departments,” he said, and it was for the IEA government to decide if they would reopen.

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Afghan humanitarian crisis, drug trafficking alarm India, Russia, China

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

The foreign ministers of India, Russia and China expressed concern on Friday at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the spread of drug trafficking in the country.

Afghanistan has been plunged into crisis by the abrupt end of billions of dollars in foreign assistance, following the collapse of the Western-backed government and return to power of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in August.

“Expressing concern over deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Ministers called for immediate and unhindered humanitarian assistance to be provided to Afghanistan,” said a joint statement released following a virtual meeting between India’s S Jaishankar, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and China’s Wang Yi.

The three countries also pledged to do more to combat drug smuggling in the region.

“The spread of illicit drug trafficking in opiates and methamphetamine from Afghanistan and beyond… poses a serious threat to regional security and stability and provides funding for terrorist organizations,” the statement added.

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Kabul hospitals receive more children suffering from malnutrition

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

Hospitals in Kabul are receiving more child patients suffering from malnutrition, as the humanitarian crisis worsens in the country amid conflicts and economic collapse.

About 20 children, many below five years old, are currently receiving treatment in the Kabul Children’s Hospital, one of the children’s medical centers in the city offering free medical services for Afghan people.

The hospital has opened a special area for the treatment of malnutrition as the number of malnourished child patients keeps increasing.

Three wards are full of children with pale faces and dull eyes. Some of them are relying on oxygen to maintain the faint breath, and others look puffy and swollen as they suffer oedema caused by severe deficiency of protein and other nutriment.

“Most of the malnourished patients here come from the countryside. As it starts to snow and the weather becomes cold, it will be difficult for them to go to the clinic or come here for treatment. The number of malnourished patients is likely to increase,” said Latif Baher, director of the hospital.

In an interview with China Central Television, Latif said the hospital is being expanded to receive more malnourished child patients. A special building will be established to accommodate about 100 malnourished children.

Latif said prolonged conflicts and the poor living environment have resulted in the malnutrition among people.

“Afghans are living in a bad situation. The adults in the family cannot get enough food, and they cannot provide enough nutrition such as protein or carbohydrates to their children,” he said.

Without reliable access to water, food and basic health and nutrition services, Afghan children and their families are bearing the brunt of years of conflict and the current economic crisis, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The fund reported last month that about 14 million people in Afghanistan are facing acute food insecurity, and an estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year. At least 1 million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment.

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