The United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, during a visit to Kandahar this week, said that UNHCR will assist Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the southern Afghan province to return to their homes.
Filippo Grandi said this after meeting with local officials in Kandahar.
“We agreed that the main priority is to try to help everybody who is displaced to go back to their homes. I know that in Kandahar province and in the south of Afghanistan there are many people still displaced, I know that many are going home, so we are here to help you achieve that,” Grandi said.
The UN high commissioner also welcomed the opening of schools for Afghan girls and boys.
“Your message on education is very important and I heard the same message yesterday in Kabul. I understand that the schools will reopen after the winter break, and this universal education will be a great message,” Grandi said.
Local officials in Kandahar meanwhile demanded execution of development projects in remote areas of the province.
“Such work should be continued especially for people in the districts. Most of the population are living in districts and they face enormous problems. There is no clinic in Registan district,” said Mohammad Yousuf Wafa, the governor of Kandahar province.
Virtue and Vice Ministry reject claims of ordering gender segregation in restaurants
The Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has rejected claims that orders were given to restaurants in Herat to separate male and female patrons.
This comes after reports emerged recently that officials from the provincial department of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice visited restaurants and instructed owners to separate patrons according to their gender.
However, Herat officials said this was a misunderstanding and that segregation is not being enforced and that families can eat together in restaurants and spend time together in parks.
One restaurant manager in Herat, Basir Ahmad Ahmadi, said: “When families came, we had to tell the family to sit apart … and when we told the families, they said they would go home to eat.”
Jawad Tawangar, an employee at one restaurant in Herat, said: “Fortunately, after the Ministry of Virtue and Vice responded in Kabul, the issue of restrictions has returned to normal and restaurants can allow families to eat together again.”
The spokesman for the ministry, Akef Mahajer, meanwhile said no one has the right to prevent families from walking in public together.
Mahajer: “Our compatriots can go to a hotel and restaurant with their families and have tea or go shopping with their families. The reports of segregation were untrue.”
Herat officials also said no order to this effect has been issued and that families can visit restaurants together.
Naeem ul-Haq Haqqani, Herat’s director of information and culture, said: “We reject [the reports of segregation] completely and it is not true.”
“Sitting around a table and eating with the family is not a problem from the Islamic point of view, nor from the custom of the community, but it can be useful for encouraging families and for getting more involved in the community,” said Negina Barak, a resident of Herat.
Salma Dam’s turbines activated following recent rainfall
Recent rain across a large part of Afghanistan has helped increase the level of Salma Dam in Herat province, enabling authorities to activate all three power-generating turbines.
According to local officials, 80 cubic meters of water is flowing through the floodgates per second since last week’s rain.
Officials said that not only is the water being used to generate electricity but it is also being distributed to farmers for irrigation purposes.
However, the dam level is lower than this time last year due to drought, officials said.
“Currently, three power-generating turbines are active; the situation is normal and the water has been released for electricity generation and for farmers in eight districts, and there are no problems,” said Barakatullah Rahimi, the technical manager of Salma Dam.
“Every second, about 80 cubic meters of water comes out of the dam, of which 50 cubic meters is for power generating turbines and the rest is for irrigating the agricultural lands of eight districts,” said Sardar Wali Muzmal, head of the Herat River Basin.
The director of Herat’s department of agriculture, Peer Mohammad Halimi, said: “Water is distributed to eight districts of Herat through Salma Dam and we are trying to send it to other districts, so the farmers are happy.”
One farmer in the area, Halim Shah Rashidi, said the water has been released just in time for them to plant whet. “We are happy that the Salma Dam water has been released in time,” he said.
Paktia tribes end longstanding dispute
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has helped end a longstanding dispute between two tribes in eastern Paktia province.
Members of the Saro Kheil and Sultan Kheil tribes, who had a 60-year dispute, gathered at a ceremony in Gerda Seray district of Paktia and reconciled with each other.
During the event, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the IEA, said that provincial committees would be established to help end longstanding tribal disputes.
He said that disputes have been noted and the government in cooperation with tribal elders would help resolve them.
Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani meanwhile stressed the importance of unity and urged tribal elders to revive the tradition of holding Jirgas (assemblies) for reconciliation.
Local officials said that IEA opponents have previously used tribal and family disputes to advance their objectives but now the disputes should be resolved peacefully.
“We will dispatch a peace convoy from here, we will take this to southern provinces and all over Afghanistan. We should turn the 20-year hostility into brotherhood,” said Abdullah Mukhtar, the governor of Paktika.
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