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UN calls for increased efforts to stamp out violence against women

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2020)

The United Nations has called on all Afghans to increase efforts to prevent violence against women and that the violence has negative consequences not only for survivors, but also for their families, communities, and society.

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW), the UN called on Afghans “to increase efforts to prevent and redress violence against women and girls, particularly in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19.”

This comes on the heels of the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry’s announcement that violence against women has increased in the country in the past year.

Speaking at the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, officials said 2,582 cases of violence against women have been recorded in the past six months.

According to the ministry, the cases of violence against women included forced marriage, rape, and murder.

The 16-day campaign, launched on Wednesday will through to December 10 – International Human Rights Day.

The EU meanwhile stated in a tweet: “We, the EU and its member states stand against Gender-Based Violence.”

They called for every girl and woman to live free from violence, oppression and discrimination. “Join our voices to put an end to violence against girls and women,” the EU said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations stated that this year’s EVAW theme – “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” – is focused on accelerating concrete policy responses to gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19 and promoting zero tolerance of gender-based violence across all spheres of society.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated key risk factors for violence against women and girls, such as food shortages, unemployment, economic insecurity, and school closures,” a statement read.

“Worldwide, there has been an alarming increase in multiple forms of violence against women and girls, and information indicates that Afghanistan is no exception.”

The statement pointed out that the consequences of violence against women and girls – including physical, sexual, and psychological impacts – could prevent them from fully participating in society.

“Violence against women and girls has negative consequences not only for survivors, but also for their families, communities, and society. It is an impediment to the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and efforts towards peace,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA.

“In Afghanistan, violence against women and girls jeopardizes their enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms at one of the most critical times in the modern history of the country”, stated Lyons.

“For millions around the world, the home became a safe space to protect us from a deadly virus. But for too many women and girls, the home became the place where they found themselves trapped with their abusers”, said Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative in Afghanistan.

“Our daily engagement with Afghan women across the country from the beginning of the pandemic flagged an alarming rise in the levels of violence against women and girls. Our data on the gender-differentiated impact of COVID-19 also matched this.”

“As it is an unprecedented time for Afghanistan, our solidarity with Afghan women and commitment to promoting and protecting their human rights must be equally unprecedented,” the UN noted.

The UN said that it is working with the Government, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and development partners in Afghanistan to respond to all forms of violence against women and girls through direct support to service providers, social norms programs to prevent violence, and campaigns and advocacy.

“During the 16 Days Campaign, the Afghan government, supported by the UN, is intensifying its advocacy and awareness-raising activities to address violence against women and girls,” the organization stated.

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UN chief says IEA must respect human rights in order to be recognized

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Laying out his priorities for 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has to respect human rights in order to obtain international recognition.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Guterres stated that it was “absolutely essential” for the IEA “to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general” in order to obtain international recognition and “getting international support for their own people.”

“To provide a lifeline of help for the Afghan people, inject cash to avoid an economic meltdown, ensure full respect of international humanitarian law and human rights — particularly for women and girls — and effectively fight terrorism,” he said.

UN Secretary-General spoke about global issues as well. Referring to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a morally bankrupt global financial system, the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and diminished peace and security, he told the General Assembly that “we face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries.”

“Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges. Now is the time to act. All these challenges are, at heart, failures of global governance.”

On the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said, “diplomacy is the way to solve problems. Of course, any invasion by one country to another country is against international law, and I hope that this, of course, will not happen in the present circumstances. I am convinced it will not happen. And I strongly hope to be right.”

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Salang Pass, Herat- Badghis highway closed to traffic due to heavy snow

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Local officials said that due to heavy snowfall and stormy weather, the Salang Pass and Herat-Badghis highway have been closed to traffic temporarily.

Qazi Obaidullah Obaid, head of the Salang Pass maintenance department said they had decided to close the mountain pass in order to avoid casualties amid bad weather conditions.

According to Obaid dozens of motorists and passengers were stranded on the pass but have since been taken to places of safety.

Meanwhile, Mohibullah Asad, deputy governor of Badghis, said that Herat-Qala-e-Naw highway has also been closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

He said maintenance crews are working to clear the highway and reopen it to traffic.

Badghis received heavy snowfalls from Friday afternoon, making the highway impassable.

Kabul also received a fair amount of snow overnight which was expected to clear later Saturday. However, temperatures are set to drop to around -12 degrees Celsius during the night.

While Sunday is expected to be sunny, the expected high will only be -1 degrees Celsius, dropping to -15 degrees Celsius on Sunday night.

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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