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US-Taliban peace agreement signed, turning point in Afghanistan’s 18 years of war

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(Last Updated On: February 29, 2020)

The US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the peace deal in the presence of more than 30 countries’ representatives on Saturday, February the 29th.

The agreement paves the way for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan starting with a drawdown to 8,600 troops “within months” upon President Trump’s orders, according to General Scott Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan.

Also, the deal specifies that the Taliban will pledge to enter into talks with the Afghan government and not to harbor terrorist groups intent on attacking the West.

In the meantime in Kabul, Defense Secretary Mark Esper attended a ceremony with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“Since the first day that Americans came, neither we wanted them to stay for centuries, nor they wanted that,” acting Afghan defense minister Asadullah Khalid said ahead of the ceremony in Kabul, adding that the departure of a “few thousand” US troops would not affect the security in Afghanistan.

In the aftermath of the US-Taliban agreement The Afghan government, ought to put a negotiating team together and exchange prisoners on a planned trend.

It is said that the Taliban have provided the US negotiators a list of some 5,000 prisoners imprisoned by the Afghan government. In return, the Taliban will have release 1,000 captives of the Afghan security forces.

“This is a test for the Americans,” said former senior Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef. “When this step is taken properly, then we’ll go to negotiations.” Afghan government officials have said that such an exchange would only occur during inter-Afghan talks or after they are complete.

On the other hand, the controversial results of the Taliban have challenged the formation of an inclusive negotiating team to represent the Afghans.

US President Trump has also contributed his words to the deal, calling it “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.” He added Friday, “ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future. We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country.”

It is noteworthy that the Afghan officials have constantly criticized being excluded from the talks with the Taliban, noting that thoughtless withdrawal of the US forces will only put extra pressure on Afghan forces jeopardizing years of effort.

US politicians have also expressed a lack of optimism in the deal as a group of Republican lawmakers released a letter Thursday warning that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” The letter continued, “A full-scale US withdrawal” would “allow terrorist groups in Afghanistan to grow stronger and establish safe havens from which to plot attacks against us.”

A key question also is ‘whether the reduction in violence will hold in the coming weeks’ as Afghan government officials and the Taliban begin talks.

Source: The Washington Post 

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France evacuates more than 300 people from Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

France has carried out an evacuation mission in Afghanistan, taking 258 Afghans as well as 11 French, about 60 Dutch nationals and an unspecified number of people linked to them out of the country, a French foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Friday.

The operation was organised with help from Qatar, a ministry statement said.

Since September 10, 110 French people and 396 Afghans have been evacuated from Afghanistan on 10 flights organised with the help of Qatar, the statement added.

France and Qatar jointly operated a humanitarian mission on Thursday, delivering medical equipment, food and winter supplies to international organisations operating in the country with a Qatari military plane, Reuters reported.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week described an “alarming” socioeconomic outlook for Afghanistan for the next 13 months.

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UNHCR calls for more aid for forcibly displaced in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2021)

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has appealed for much more support amid acute and rising humanitarian needs for 3.5 million people displaced by conflict inside Afghanistan – including 700,000 who were displaced in 2021.

In a statement released on Friday, UNHCR said that the forcibly displaced are facing a lack of insulated shelters, warm clothes, insufficient fuel for heating, and inadequate amounts of food and medical supplies as temperatures begin to plunge below freezing.

“The humanitarian crisis is escalating daily in Afghanistan. Hunger in the country has reached truly unprecedented levels. Nearly 23 million people – that’s 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, and nearly 9 million of them are at risk of famine,” the statement read.

The organization emphasized that providing food supplies is an “immediate priority” to help avoid widespread starvation in the country.

“This year, UNHCR has assisted some 700,000 displaced people across the country the majority since mid-August. The race is on to reach more. Currently, we are able to reach nearly 60,000 people every week.”

“Further resources are urgently needed for the most vulnerable -single mothers with no shelter or food for their children, older persons who have been displaced are left to take care of orphaned grandchildren, and those taking care of loved ones with special needs.”

UNHCR has been bringing in relief supplies by road through Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and through humanitarian airlifts.

The organization noted that five more flights carrying UNHCR winter supplies from its global stockpiles in Amman are scheduled next week.

“UNHCR support will continue throughout the cold season until February 2022 to help forcibly displaced families cope with the extreme conditions. The response includes core relief items, such as thermal blankets and warm winter clothing. Shelters are being repaired and reinforced, while people are also being provided plastic sheeting and insulation materials to help weather-proof their shelters,” the statement said.

The organization added that vulnerable families are also being provided with cash assistance to meet additional needs during the coldest months, such as fuel for heating.

“Further support is urgently needed for UNHCR to continue delivering lifesaving aid this winter as we head into the coldest weeks of the season. UNHCR’s funding needs for the Afghanistan Situation in 2022 – including continued winter response – amount to US$374.9 million,” the statement concluded.

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Security forces rescue girl, arrest 9 kidnappers in Balkh operation

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) forces have rescued an abducted girl in northern Balkh province, officials said Friday.

Sadra. 9, was kidnapped in PD3 of Mazar-i-Sharif city, the capital of Balkh, on Tuesday while she was going to school.

IEA officials stated that Sadra had been rescued in a joint operation of security forces in the city.

One of the kidnappers was killed, and nine others were arrested during the raid, officials said.

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