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UNHCR calls for greater support for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2021)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a released statement on Friday has called for greater support from the international community for Afghanistan’s people, including those displaced within its borders and refugees seeking safety outside the country.

The appeal comes at the end of a four-day visit by UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, Raouf Mazou, who was on his first trip to the country.

“Afghanistan is at a critical and historical juncture,” said Mazou. ‘’With ongoing efforts to find peace, relief and development activities also need to be scaled up simultaneously.”

He raised concerns about the continued violence which has been causing new displacement. Over 100,000 Afghans have been internally displaced due to conflict so far in 2021.

During his visit to Kabul province’s Qarabagh district, he inaugurated the Akakhail Boys’ and Girls’ High School. Both are part of UNHCR initiatives, working with the Afghan government, to help refugee returnees better reintegrate.

“Support in health, education and livelihoods that benefits host communities, internally displaced people and refugee returnees alike are all key components of the peace process”.

During his visit, he met with the First Vice-President Amurallah Saleh, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Noor-e-Rahman Akhlaqi and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mirwais Nab, and assured them of UNHCR’s continued support.

Afghanistan today has a population of nearly 35 million people, the majority of them young, facing insecurity and economic challenges. Millions also remain displaced within the country and outside as refugees, generously hosted by countries such as Iran and Pakistan despite the devasting impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.

UNHCR has assisted over 100,000 internally displaced Afghans in the last 6 months through the distribution of hygiene kits, emergency shelter kits, family tents, sanitary kits and other non-food items. Cash assistance has also been provided to vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, children and women at risk, people with disabilities, and those with serious medical conditions.

While the international community has made immense contributions during the last 20 years, aid and funding for Afghanistan have been on the decline, with – humanitarian assistance facing the largest funding shortfalls. UNHCR’s financial appeal of US$ 123.5 million for 2021 is only 24 per cent funded.

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Pakistan’s customs agent says exports to Afghanistan dwindle

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Hundreds of trucks lined the winding, mountainous road leading to Torkhum, the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing on Thursday.

Pakistani officials say that is because exports to Afghanistan have dwindled in the days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) take over.

But some truck drivers were upbeat because they said the vegetable and fruit season in Afghanistan had helped increase exports of these items from the war-ravaged country.

Another Pakistani official at another Pakistan-Afghan border Chaman said trade had picked up because the IEA government had reduced taxes, and also put an end to bribes that traders and truck drivers had to pay to cross the border.

Afghan new government bolstered its economic team last week, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new government, prices for staples like flour, fuel, and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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IEA’s defence minister orders crackdown on abuses

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting new defence minister has issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters following the IEA’s victory over the Western-backed government in Afghanistan last month, saying abuses would not be tolerated, Reuters reported.

According to the report Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said in an audio message that some “miscreants and notorious former soldiers” had been allowed to join Taliban units where they had committed a range of sometimes violent abuses.

“We direct you keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you,” he stated. “We don’t want such people in our ranks.”

The message from one of the IEA’s most senior ministers underlines the problems Afghanistan’s new rulers have sometimes had in controlling fighting forces as they transition from an insurgency to a peacetime administration, the report said.

Some Kabul residents have complained of abusive treatment at the hands of IEA forces who have appeared on the streets of the capital, often from other regions and unused to big cities.

There have also been reports of reprisals against members of the former government and military or civil society activists, despite promises of an amnesty by the IEA.

Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorized executions, and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

“As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone,” he said.

Reuters said that it was not clear precisely which incidents he was referring to, nor what prompted the message, which was published on IEA Twitter accounts and widely shared on social media.

There have been reports of tensions within the IEA between hardline battlefield commanders and political leaders more willing to seek compromise with governments outside Afghanistan, report said

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