The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$12 million from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance in support of WFP’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s public health emergency has been compounded by increasing levels of food insecurity and many communities’ livelihoods are being obliterated due to the ongoing pandemic.
According to the WFP, this contribution from USAID will allow them to provide 95,000 families affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 with direct cash-transfers.
Each family will receive AFN6,000 (US$79) through cash based transfers to partially cover their food needs for two months.
“COVID-19 has disrupted the livelihoods of families across the country relying on day labour, small trade or remittances, most of all in the cities where the lockdowns have left them without opportunities to earn money to buy their next meal,” said Peter Natiello, Mission Director for USAID Afghanistan.
“Through our partnership with WFP, USAID will help reach some of the most vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in Afghanistan with food assistance.”
Vulnerable families in Herat City and the capital Kabul, the two urban centres of the country with the highest number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 and where the impact of the pandemic on the economy and individual livelihoods is being felt the most, will receive the assistance.
The assistance will help keep these most vulnerable urban families from being forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, child labour or eating fewer and smaller meals.
“We’re grateful for this generous contribution from USAID and the continued support for WFP in Afghanistan,” said WFP Afghanistan Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge Robert Kasca.
“This contribution comes at critical times when we are facing additional needs of US$53 million due to COVID-19. Without concerted action, Afghanistan could face its most devastating food security crisis in decades.”
At the outset of 2020, more than 12 million people were already facing acute food insecurity due to decades of conflict, natural disasters and growing poverty, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Analysis.
Now, COVID-19 leaves millions of Afghans at risk of falling into hunger, faced with unusually high food prices and reduced employment opportunities.
With the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic, WFP is further providing services in health centres and through mobile teams to prevent and treat malnutrition in girls, boys and pregnant and lactating women.
Under strict precautions to quell the spread of the coronavirus, WFP is continuing asset creation activities that help food-insecure families cover their food needs and build the resilience of their communities.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 in Afghanistan, WFP is working to reach 3 million people more than initially planned, creating additional funding needs of US$53 million.
In total, WFP plans to reach 10.3 million food-insecure people in 2020.
Funding requirements from July to December 2020 for all of WFP’s activities in Afghanistan are US$218 million, of which US$135 million remain to be resourced.
This latest contribution from USAID follows contributions of US$49 million in 2020 and US$92 million in 2019.
Atmar conveys condolences to Palestine just hours before media offices bombed
Pakistan’s peace envoy arrives in Kabul for talks
Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan said Sunday that a high-ranking delegation led by Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials.
“Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation, arrived in Kabul this morning for discussions with Afghan officials on peace,” Khan tweeted.
During his visit Sadiq will also discuss security and related matters, the ambassador confirmed.
Sadiq’s visit comes just two weeks after a scheduled visit by another Pakistani delegation was canceled due to security threats.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Asad Qaisar, and his accompanying delegation were forced to turn back to Islamabad after entering Afghan airspace following the reported discovery of explosive materials at the airport.
At the time, Qaisar’s flight was turned back after NATO warned they had found explosives on the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul city.
Qaisar had been scheduled to visit Kabul for three days.
According to officials at the time, the explosives had been planted on one of the runways years ago.
CENTCOM chief in midst of ‘detailed planning’ for counterterrorism ops
Carrying out airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan without a US troop presence in the country will be difficult but “not impossible”, the commander of US Central Command General Frank McKenzie said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, McKenzie said he is in the midst of “detailed planning” for options for so-called “over the horizon” forces, or forces positioned elsewhere in the region that could continue counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan.
He said he plans to give Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin those options by the end of the month.
“If you leave Afghanistan and you want to go back in to conduct these kinds of operations, there are three things you need to do: you need to find the target, you need to fix the target, and you need to be able to finish the target,” McKenzie said.
“The first two require heavy intelligence support. If you’re out of the country, and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have there now, it will be harder to do that. It is not impossible to do that.”
McKenzie’s testimony comes almost a week after President Joe Biden announced he was withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan and that they would all be home by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
According to The Hill, Biden’s decision came despite repeated statements from US military officials that the Taliban was not yet upholding its end of a deal made during the Trump administration to reduce violence and break from al-Qaeda, as well as warnings about the potential for chaos in Afghanistan that could allow an al-Qaeda resurgence should US troops withdraw.
Meanwhile, McKenzie’s comments about the difficulty of intelligence gathering without a troop presence echo comments last week from CIA Director William Burns, who told senators the ability to collect intelligence on threats in Afghanistan will “diminish” with a US military withdrawal, the Hill reported.
On Tuesday, McKenzie also said he continues to have “grave doubts” about the Taliban’s reliability in upholding its commitments under the deal signed last year.
McKenzie declined to tell lawmakers how he advised Biden as the president deliberated the withdrawal, but said he had “multiple opportunities” to provide Biden with his perspective.
The Hill reported that speaking broadly about options to continue strikes once US troops leave, McKenzie said surveillance drones could be positioned in a place where they can reach Afghanistan “in a matter of minutes” or ”perhaps much further away.”
“We will look at all the countries in the region, our diplomats will reach out, and we’ll talk about places where we could base those resources,” he said.
“Some of them may be very far away, and then there would be a significant bill for those types of resources because you’d have to cycle a lot of them in and out. That is all doable, however.”
Right now, McKenzie added, the United States does not have any basing agreements with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan or other countries surrounding Afghanistan.
McKenzie also said there are a “variety of ways” to strike targets, including long-range precision fire missiles, manned raids or manned aircraft.
“There are problems with all three of those options, but there’s also opportunities with all three of those options,” he said.
“I don’t want to make light of it. I don’t want to put on rose-colored glasses and say it’s going to be easy to do. I can tell you that the U.S. military can do just about anything. And we’re examining this problem with all of our resources right now to find a way to do it in the most intelligent, risk-free manner that we can.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley are also scheduled to brief the full House and Senate behind closed doors later Tuesday on Biden’s plan for Afghanistan.
Survivors call for Kabul school bombing to be seen as act of genocide
Laghman district police chief killed in accidental fire
ISIS claims responsibility for Kabul mosque bombing
Fighting resumes in Afghanistan after three-day ceasefire ends
Israel bombs Gaza home of top Hamas leader as fighting rages
Russia ask 10 US diplomats to leave in retaliation against Washington
Chad President Idriss Deby killed in battle
Putin warns West of harsh response if it crosses Russia’s ‘red lines’
In Mexico, ancient Maya cave reveals mysterious painted hand prints
Sunken missing Indonesian submarine found broken into pieces
Tahawol: Efforts underway for holding Istanbul peace summit
Zerbena: Weekly economic news in Afghanistan
Morning News Show: Second day of Afghan ceasefire discussed
Sola: the three-day Eid ceasefire across Afghanistan discussed
Tahawol: President Ghani says current peace process opportunity must be seized to end war
World5 days ago
35 killed in Gaza, 5 in Israel, as violence escalates
Latest News3 days ago
Day 2 of ceasefire: blast hits Kabul mosque during Friday prayers
Latest News5 days ago
China calls for ethnic inclusion and moderate Islamic policy in ‘new’ govt
World4 days ago
Biden believes Israel conflict will end soon
Latest News5 days ago
Taliban capture key district near Afghan capital
Latest News4 days ago
Deputy leader of Taliban faction sustains ‘serious’ injuries in skirmish
Latest News3 days ago
Israel targets Gaza tunnels, Palestinian rocket attacks persist
Latest News3 days ago
US forces leave Kandahar Airfield as drawdown continues