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UN appeals financial aid for vulnerable countries

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2020)

A UN report says that humanitarians are seeking nearly $7 billion to protect millions of lives in over 60 most affected countries amid the spread of COVID-19.

According to the report, the updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan provides help and protection that prioritize the most vulnerable in society, older people, people with disabilities, and women and girls, in particular.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock has warned of a significant rise in conflict, hunger, and poverty, as well as looming famine, unless action is taken now.

He has said, “If we do not support the poorest people – especially women and girls and other vulnerable groups – as they battle the pandemic and impacts of the global recession, we will all be dealing with the spillover effects for many years to come. That would prove even more painful, and much more expensive, for everyone.”

The report writes, “The updated plan builds on an earlier appeal made by the UN Secretary-General in late March which called for $2 billion.”

In a video message, urging donors to step up support to stop the pandemic from circling back around the globe, António Guterres says, “Humanitarian aid is not just a moral imperative; it is a practical necessity to combat the virus.”

He highlights, “If COVID-19 wreaks havoc in the poorest places, we are all at risk.”

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Central bank seizes over $12 million from former govt officials

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Afghanistan’s central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former high-ranking government officials, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in the houses of officials, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts meanwhile are unknown.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency.

This comes amid growing concerns that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

In a sign that the Islamic Emirate are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government.

But on Wednesday, reports emerged that Afghanistan’s banks are running out of dollars, and may have to close their doors to customers unless the government releases funds soon.

Three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the cash squeeze threatens to upend the country’s already battered economy, largely dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars shipped by the United States to the central bank in Kabul that make their way to Afghans through banks.

Although the cash crunch has lasted weeks, the country’s banks have in recent days repeatedly underlined their concerns to the new government and central bank, two of the people said.

Banks have already pared back services and imposed weekly $200 payout limits, with long queues outside branches as people try to get hold of dollars.

But in a statement on its website on Wednesday, the central bank’s acting governor said banks were stable.

“The banks are completely secure,” he said, adding that commercial banks usually kept 10% of their capital as cash and that those in Afghanistan, on average, held 50% as cash.

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Efforts underway to reopen Torkham and Spin Boldak border crossings

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Mawlavi Amir Khan Mottaqi met with Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan on Tuesday to discuss challenges at the country’s border crossings.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Islamic Emirate’s political office in Doha, said the meeting focused on the people’s challenges at the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings.

According to Shaheen, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan has assured the Islamic Emirate that the crossings will soon be reopened to Afghans and all challenges will be resolved.

Pakistan closed the Torkham crossing to Afghan travelers, and traffic continued intermittently through Spin Boldak after the Islamic Emirate’s takeover of Afghanistan last month.

Thousands of Afghans are however currently waiting to cross into Pakistan at these crossings.

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China’s Jiangxi Copper to develop Mes Aynak when situation allows

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2021)

Members of the Islamic Emirate were seen on Monday touring the Mes Aynak copper mine, which two Chinese companies had been developing.

China’s Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd said that it and the Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) were monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and would push forward with the development of the Mes Aynak copper mine when they could.

Logar governor, Mohammad Ali Jan said that “now that the Islamic Emirate is ruling, this is our only and first visit to here, after this the Islamic Emirate and the company’s technical people will work on it together. As we know from history, this is a huge mine in Afghanistan and it is the nation’s great wealth.”

Construction of the mine until now has not been substantial due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan, said Zheng Gaoqing, the chairman of Jiangxi Copper, at an online briefing.

Jiangxi Copper and MCC took on a 30-year lease for the mine in 2008, which has an estimated reserve of 11.08 million tonnes of copper. Jiangxi Copper holds a 25% stake in the project.

Mes Aynak, about 40 km southeast of Kabul, is also the site of ancient Buddhist ruins.

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