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UN Report: Over 500 civilians killed in Afghanistan during first quarter 2020

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(Last Updated On: April 30, 2020)

According to a United Nations report released on 27 April 2020, over 500 civilians, including more than 150 children, were killed due to the fighting in Afghanistan during the first quarter of 2020.

Anti-Government Elements (AGEs) were responsible for 55 percent and Pro-Government Forces (PGFs) were responsible for 32 percent of all civilian casualties in the 3 months of 2020, the report indicates.

It highlights the urgent need for all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians from harm, especially in view of the looming threat posed to all Afghans by COVID-19.

As per the report, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented a total of 1,293 civilian casualties (533 killed and 760 injured) in Afghanistan during the first three months of the year.

It has noted concerns particularly in March, which was hoped that the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban would commence peace negotiations and prioritize efforts to protect all Afghans from the impact of COVID-19, saw most of the violence, the reported indicates.

The report quotes Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, “I call on all parties to seize the opportunity offered by the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire to focus collective efforts on fighting a common enemy, the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“To safeguard the lives of countless civilians in Afghanistan and to give the nation hope of a better future, it is imperative that violence is stopped with the establishment of a ceasefire and for peace negotiations to commence,” he said.

The report said, “Anti-Government Elements (AGEs) continued to be responsible for the majority of civilian casualties – 55 percent – during the first quarter, causing 710 civilian casualties (282 killed and 428 injured). UNAMA attributed 39 percent to the Taliban, 13 percent to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) and the remainder to undetermined AGEs. The number of civilian deaths attributed to AGEs – particularly the Taliban – increased by 22 percent in the first quarter of 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019, mainly due to an increase in targeted killings and summary executions.”

“Pro-Government Forces (PGFs) were responsible for 32 percent of all civilian casualties during the first quarter of 2020, causing 412 civilian casualties (198 killed and 214 injured). Of concern, PGFs were responsible for more child casualties than AGEs during the first three months of the year and over twice as many child deaths, mainly due to airstrikes and indirect fire during ground engagements,” the report explained.

UNAMA attributed 21 percent of overall civilian casualties to Afghan national security forces, eight percent to international military forces, and the remainder to pro-government armed groups and undetermined PGFs.

The UN, through the report, reiterates its support for the Afghan people and calls for urgent action to save civilian lives.

Source: UN Report

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Pakistan embassy expresses ‘deep sadness’ over visa-stampede tragedy

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul issued a statement Wednesday morning has expressed its regret over the loss of lives in Tuesday’s stampede at a stadium close to their consulate in Jalalabad city, which claimed the lives of at least 15 people. 

The stampede happened about 5km from the consulate after thousands of Afghans had gathered to start the application process for visas to travel to Pakistan. 

Among the dead were at least 11 women, many of whom were elderly. 

Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, posted a condolence message on Twitter and said the embassy was working with the Afghan authorities to improve the visa application process. 

“We are committed to continue visa issuance to Afghan nationals under new visa policy while making the process smoother and streamlined at our end,” he said. 

He also stated he was “deeply saddened at the reports of casualties at a stadium in Jalalabad 5 km from Pakistani Consulate where visa applicants were being organized by Afghan provincial authorities. We sympathize with the families of victims.”

The embassy said in an official statement the incident happened when visa applicants were being “gathered and organized by the provincial Afghan authorities.

The embassy also appealed to the Afghan people for their cooperation and to the Afghan authorities “for better and secure management of the Afghan visa applicants”.

“We sympathize with the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured in this unfortunate incident.”

The statement noted that the embassy “would like to emphasize again that in view of brotherly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pakistan Embassy in Kabul and our consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazer-e-Sharif continue to issue multiple entry visas to the Afghan applicants for their visits to Pakistan for family, business, medical treatment, education and other purposes.”

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At least 15 dead in stampede near Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

At least 15 Afghans, many of them elderly women, were killed and more than a dozen injured in a stampede in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province while waiting for visas from the Pakistan consulate, officials said Wednesday. 

The incident happened on Tuesday in an open ground close to the Pakistan consulate where over 3,000 Afghans had gathered to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa to travel to Pakistan. 

Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in Jalalabad city, said of the 15 people dead, 11 were women and several senior citizens were wounded.

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Pakistan parliament to host trade and investment forum for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Pakistan’s National Assembly will host a Pakistan-Afghanistan trade and economic forum next week to enhance bilateral relations and find ways to overcome transit and trade challenges. 

The two-day seminar in Islamabad will include a 17-member Afghan parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) and representatives from Afghanistan’s trade and investment community. 

Pakistan’s The News reported delegates attending from Pakistan will include political leaders, academics, investors, and traders.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the opening ceremony of the conference on October 26 and a video message from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be telecast during the event.

The seminar is being viewed as a positive sign of change and a way to overcome issues faced by traders and investors in both countries and will also open new avenues of political and parliamentary cooperation and coordination between the two countries. 

 

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