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Taliban urges government staff to return to work 

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2021)

In a bid to reassure the nation, the Taliban on Monday called on all government employees, including women, to return to work. 

The deputy head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar Abdul Salam Hanafi stressed that diplomatic missions, and military and civilian government employees can work alongside the Taliban without any concerns and that no one’s rights will be violated.

This comes after the Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday after former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country. 

The Taliban has said women can return to work as long as they observe the Islamic hijab. 

“No Afghan citizen should worry about anyone who served in the previous government, and we will serve in our homeland, whether in the civil sector or in the military sector, and no one’s reputation or rights will be lost,” said Hanafi. 

“The Taliban have announced that the employees of the departments and ministries can return to their jobs and there is no obstacle for women if they observe the Islamic hijab, and this is to reassure the people and all their benefits will be paid,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, who is close to the Taliban. 

Many Kabul residents have welcomed the announcement.

“A new transition has taken place in Afghanistan, and the Taliban have announced that employees can continue to work which can be a source of hope in the current crisis in which nothing has collapsed,” said Abdul Qahar Fetrati, a resident of Kabul.

Although no details have yet been released on the structure of a new government, the Taliban has said efforts are being made to establish an inclusive government that all Afghans will be part of. 

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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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Export of Afghanistan’s talc resumes: Industrial Association

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Afghanistan Industrial Association said Monday that Kabul recently exported 500 tons of talc powder to a number of countries including China, Spain and the UK.

Abdul Jabbar Safi, the head of the association, said: “Afghanistan has recently exported talc to Pakistan, Turkey, India, China, Spain, and the UK. Exports have resumed and we want to expand our exports.”

The association meanwhile also called for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to focus on the mining sector and provide facilities for the extraction of minerals in order to boost investment.

They also called on government to establish new policies around mining, also to boost investment in the sector.

Safi meanwhile said that since the mid-August takeover by the IEA, “illegal extractions of mines, as well as smuggling, have been prevented.”

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