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Ugandan guards stranded after being evacuated from base due to COVID-19

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US Army
(Last Updated On: August 25, 2020)

The majority of about 300 Ugandan guards who provide security at entry points to Operating Base Fenty, near Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday that the guards, who work for the Triple Canopy private security company, tested positive in June and were evacuated from Operating Base Fenty.

Quoting an American-based attorney, Tara Coughlin, who is representing some of the guards, Stars and Stripes stated: “The outbreak was widespread at Fenty, with a vast majority of those tested.”

However, NATO Resolute Support said in a statement that “appropriate levels of protection” are being maintained at bases across Afghanistan.

Resolute Support did not disclose how many troops or contractors in Afghanistan have tested positive for the virus.

With continued violence and one of the world’s worst health care systems, Afghanistan has struggled to contain the virus, which according to a survey earlier this month has likely infected 10 million people – a third of the population. 

Stars and Stripes reported that most of the guards are still in Afghanistan and are waiting to be repatriated home to Uganda.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda’s borders are closed although the company along with the US, Afghan and Ugandan governments have been working at ways to repatriate the guards. 

“The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has caused many countries to close their borders, restricting our ability to help the contracting agents facilitate the repatriation of these former contract employees,” Resolute Support said in a statement.

One of the guards who spoke to Stars and Stripes on condition of anonymity said they had told superiors months ago that they were at risk as they had to carry out body searches on everyone entering the base. 

He said nothing was done until the company realized the guards were positive and by June, the majority of the guards had the virus. 

By late June, the last of the infected guards had been evacuated to Bagram base outside Kabul, Stars and Stripes reported. 

The guards said that after regular testing and observation by military medics, they were eventually released from isolation and most have spent over a month in a Kabul hotel, waiting to be repatriated to Uganda.

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Govt rolls out curfew in 31 provinces to curb Taliban activities

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday it has imposed a curfew in 31 provinces around the country in a bid to curb Taliban activity.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s deputy spokesman Ahmad Zia Zia, the curfew will come into effect immediately and will be enforced from 10pm to 4am. 

Kabul, Nangarhar and Panjshir provinces are the only three that have been exempt. 

“Based on the security [situation] officials announced a curfew in 31 provinces; the decision was taken to prevent Taliban activities,” said Zia.

Meanwhile, residents of Kapisa province said that a number of families have been displaced due to clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts.

“Due to the war between ANDSF and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts, many of the residents of the districts have been displaced. We want to know what government intends to do about this,” said Shamila Mashal, a civil society activist.

In addition to these districts, heavy clashes have been ongoing between ANDSF and Taliban in Ghazni, Wardak, Takhar, Kunduz, Kunar, Laghman, Herat, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.

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Commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan is stepping down

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2021)

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller is stepping down Monday in a move that marks the symbolic end of the U.S. military mission in the country.

Miller has commanded the military coalition in Afghanistan since August 2018, longer than any previous commanding general in that position and will turn over command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan to the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine General Frank McKenzie.

NBC reported that as the head of CENTCOM, McKenzie already had authority over Afghanistan and many of the neighboring countries. He will continue to work from CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and his forward headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar.

Miller is expected to retire, three defense officials said, NBC reported.

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Biden: US military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug 31

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The United States’ military mission in Afghanistan will officially end on August 31, US President Joe Biden announced Thursday during an update on the troop withdrawal process.

Biden stated a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable” because the Afghan military not only outnumbers the Taliban but is much better equipped. 

He also said the US intelligence community’s recent warning that Afghanistan’s government is on the verge of collapse is “wrong”. 

Biden’s remarks during a press briefing at the White House came after he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with national security leaders for an update on the troop withdrawal process.

He also said: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build, and it is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.” 

Biden announced that the US is implementing an evacuation plan to withdraw Afghans who assisted the American military.

Biden said Washington would begin flights this month to relocate Afghan interpreters and other personnel who aided the US military – as well as their families – to third-party countries while they await expedited visa processing to move to the United States.

“There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” Biden said.

He noted that the US has already approved 2,500 special immigrant visas for Afghans who assisted the US military but said that “up until now, fewer than half have exercised their right to do that.”

There are an estimated 18,000 Afghans who qualify for the special immigrant visas.

 

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