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Violence Against Journalists Reduces 50 Percent in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 18, 2019)

The findings of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee shows that the violation against journalists has reduced 50 percent over the first six months in 2019.

Based on the findings, 45 violation cases have been recorded during the mentioned time which includes three cases of murder, six cases of injury, five cases of whipping, 19 cases of abuse, one case of illegal arrest, and one case of forced expulsion.

“The government officials have been the cause of 20 cases of violation and threat against the journalists. In addition, the Taliban and Daesh have been the cause of 8 cases, unknown people have been the cause of 8 cases, powerful people have been the cause of six cases, and the media officials have been the cause of three violations against the journalists,” said Najib Sharifi, the Chief of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

Meanwhile, the latest warning of the Taliban to media and the self-censorship of media and journalists are assumed to be great concerns for media in Afghanistan.

“The latest warning of the Taliban made the media and journalists to censor themselves. This has caused that most of the media prefer not to broadcast the reports regarding the Taliban’s felonies,” said Sharifi.

“What is still considered to be the concern for journalists is the lack of safety,” said Zohra Sotuda, a journalist.

At the same time, the Attorney General Office Stresses that investigation of the violation cases against the journalists is its priority.

This comes as last year was the bloodiest year for the journalists in Afghanistan.

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COVID-19: AFC 2022 World Cup qualifiers postponed to 2021

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Wednesday that the qualifying matches in Asia for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 have been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA and AFC in a joint statement said that the Asian qualifiers matches scheduled to take place in October and November 2020 will be rescheduled to 2021.

“In light of the current COVID-19 situation in many countries, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have jointly decided that the upcoming qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, originally scheduled to take place during the international match windows in October and November 2020, will be rescheduled to 2021,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the matches were postponed to make sure all participants are protected from contracting the Coronavirus.

“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” read the statement. 

The AFC further said that it will announce new dates for the next round of the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Asian Cup 2023 in the coming days.

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Polio vaccination campaign resumes after rise in cases reported

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Polio immunization campaigns have resumed in Afghanistan after a three-month break due to COVID-19, which in turn has seen an increase in polio cases in the country. 

UNICEF reported on Tuesday that as a result of the suspension of the immunization campaign, reported polio cases have reached 34 in Afghanistan and 63 in Pakistan, including in some previously polio-free parts of the country.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the last two polio-endemic countries in the world. Last year, Afghanistan recorded a total of 26 cases for 2019. 

UNICEF said on Tuesday, the polio immunization program restarted in Afghanistan in three provinces in July. 

A second program is scheduled to start this month. 

 “These life-saving vaccinations are critical if children are to avoid yet another health emergency,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. 

“As the world has come to see only too well, viruses know no borders and no child is safe from polio until every child is safe.”

Polio is a highly infectious, crippling and sometimes fatal disease that can be avoided with a vaccine. Children under the age of five are particularly vulnerable. 

Child vaccination drives, including polio campaigns, were halted in both Afghanistan in March in order to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission to children, caregivers and vaccinators themselves. 

The application of new vaccination guidelines and the use of protective equipment by frontline health workers will help ensure that vaccination campaigns resume safely.

However, UNICEF stated that while every effort will be made to reach children nationwide the organization is concerned that up to one million children in Afghanistan could miss out as door-to-door vaccinations are not possible in some areas and parents will have to make their way to health clinics to have their child vaccinated. 

“Although we have experienced new challenges and a set-back in the fight against polio because of COVID-19, the eradication of this contagious disease will get back on track and is firmly within our reach,” said Jean Gough. 

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Afghan Sikh’s evacuation flight to Delhi postponed over ‘security concerns’

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Wednesday’s evacuation flight from Kabul to Delhi for 180 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus has been postponed for a week or so, the Times of India reported early Wednesday morning. 

An Afghan Sikh leader who wished to remain anonymous told the Times: “I don’t think there could be any other reason for the postponement of the flight other than security concerns.”

The Times reported that Indian intelligence sources said: “Nobody want to make much hullabaloo about Afghan Sikhs and Hindus leaving the country as it could expose them to further attacks by militants.”

This was the second group of as many as 700 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus expected to leave Afghanistan after appealing to the Indian government for help following the March attack, by Daesh, on a Gurdwara in Kabul which killed 25 Sikhs.

The March attack on the Gurdwara was not the first time the minority group had been targeted by Daesh in Afghanistan. 

In 2018, 17 Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leaders were killed by Daesh militants in Jalalabad. 

At the time, the community leaders had been on their way to meet President Ashraf Ghani. 

The ongoing threats and attacks by Daesh against this small community, which number only about 700, led a group of Sikh activists in the United States to take up their cause and even appealed to the United Nations to help evacuate the Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. 

India has since stepped in to help and last month welcomed the first group of 11, including children. 

During the 1980s the Sikh and Hindu community numbered more than 80,000 but most left the country when the Soviet Union was ousted in 1992. 

Some returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted from power in the hope that things would improve. 

The Afghan government had encouraged their return but the community has faced vicious attacks claimed by Daesh during the past few years. Today, less than 700 live in their home country.

 

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