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Unemployment spikes in Kandahar as conflict intensifies

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

Kandahar officials said on Saturday that the local unemployment rate is estimated to be at 80 percent due to the ongoing conflict that has raged for the past four months between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces in the province.

“Job opportunities decreased during war without any doubt. If we say that 80 percent of youths are jobless it is correct,” said Habibullah Jailani, head of Kandahar labor and social affairs department.

According to Jailani, they have been forced to appeal to international organizations for help for destitute people.

“We want to distribute humanitarian assistance to them including foodstuff… and to keep them warm,” added Jailani.

Officials, meanwhile, stated that more than 20,000 families have been displaced in the province due to the war.

Residents said that they are suffering enormously, not only because of no work but also because they are being forced to seek shelter in the city.

“War has increased in recent days; we have come here (to Kandahar city) from Dand district,” said Raza Khan, a displaced resident.

“We have come here due to the war, the war has intensified, work opportunities are also less,” said Mohammad Daud, another displaced person.

Kandahar officials have not however provided updated information about the current security situation in the southern province.

Kandahar was where the Taliban originated and where its power base was located until the fall of the city in 2001, which signaled the end of organized Taliban control of Afghanistan.

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Austin arrives in Brussels ahead of troop withdrawal announcement

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Brussels on Wednesday ahead of a planned announcement by US President Joe Biden that troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11.

Reuters reported earlier that a coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11. President Joe Biden is expected to make a formal announcement later Wednesday that will end two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission.

NATO foreign and defense ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose U.S. President Joe Biden’s formal announcement.

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NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

A coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels on Wednesday.

His remarks came ahead of a formal announcement of the end of two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission, Reuters reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

“We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

NATO foreign and defence ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose U.S. President Joe Biden’s formal announcement, expected later on Wednesday, for a complete U.S. withdrawal of troops by Sept. 11.

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Sharp increase in civilian casualties this year: UNAMA Report

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

UNAMA has found that the number of civilians killed and injured in the first three months of 2021 was significantly higher than a year ago.

In its first quarter report on the Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2021, UNAMA stated that 1,783 civilian casualties (573 killed and 1,210 injured) were recorded in the first three months of this year – a 29 percent increase against the same period last year.

UNAMA stated that extraordinary levels of harm inflicted on civilians in the Afghan conflict continues unabated and that “of particular concern is the 37 percent increase in the number of women killed and injured, and a 23 percent increase in child casualties compared with the first quarter of 2020”.

Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said: “The number of Afghan civilians killed and maimed, especially women and children, is deeply disturbing. I implore the parties to urgently find a way to stop this violence.”

UNAMA stated that the start of peace talks in September last year raised hopes for an improvement in the situation for civilians but in the six months between October 2020 and March 2021, UNAMA recorded a 38 percent increase in civilian casualties compared with the same period one year earlier.

“Every possible opportunity for peace must be seized. If levels of violence are not immediately reduced, thousands of Afghan civilians will continue to be killed and injured by fellow Afghans in 2021,” said Lyons, who is also head of UNAMA.

The overall increase in civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2021 was mainly driven by the same trends that caused the increase at the end of last year: ground engagements; improvised explosive devices; and targeted killings, UNAMA stated.

Anti-Government Elements continued to be responsible for the majority (61 percent) of all civilian casualties in the first three months of 2021, while Pro-Government Forces continued to cause approximately one quarter (27 percent) of the total civilian casualties.

In the first three months of 2021, UNAMA documented increases in the number of civilian casualties as compared to the first quarter of 2020, attributed to both the Afghan National Army, and the Taliban, with the Taliban responsible for 43.5 percent of all civilian casualties, and the Afghan National Army responsible for 17 percent.

UNAMA also stated it remains deeply concerned about the continued deliberate targeting of civilians by Anti-Government Elements, particularly through targeted killings – against civilians including media workers, civil society activists, members of the judiciary and the civilian government administration, including a particularly worrying trend of targeting of women.

“UNAMA reminds Anti-Government Elements that the deliberate targeting of civilians is prohibited under international law and constitutes a war crime. The mission urges Anti-Government Elements to apply a definition of civilian that accords with international law and to immediately cease all targeting of civilians,” the report read.

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