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WFP receives $49m from USAID to help feed vulnerable Afghans

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a new contribution of US$49 million from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance towards programs that help meet the food and nutrition needs of vulnerable communities in the country.

“Providing food assistance to the most vulnerable families during these uncertain times is important,” said Peter Natiello, Mission Director for USAID Afghanistan.

“USAID is pleased to partner with WFP to help communities become more resilient to the current needs.”

With this new contribution, WFP will provide assistance – through food distribution and cash-based transfers – to nearly one million people, including communities affected by conflict and natural hazards, as well as malnourished children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and people participating in risk reduction activities.

“This contribution comes at a critical time when an estimated four million people are facing severe food shortage across the country,” said Robert Kasca, WFP Afghanistan Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge.

“We are grateful for this funding and the steadfast support the United States Government has provided to us over the years. The lives of hundreds of thousands of people will be protected thanks to the generosity and solidarity of the American people.”

Part of the contribution will go towards strengthening WFP’s fleet capacity to deliver food to remote areas, and the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operated by WFP on behalf of the international community in Afghanistan.

Before COVID-19, WFP’s plan was to reach 7.2 million people through its country operations; but now, an additional three million people are in need of support as a result of the pandemic.

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Concerns raised around peace talks after journalists have Qatar visas rejected

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

The Afghan media on Wednesday voiced concern over the upcoming intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha after Qatar visas for local journalists were not approved.

Members of the public also objected to the move saying talks should not be held behind closed doors and that the people of Afghanistan have the right to be kept up-to-date on the details of negotiations.

A group of local journalists was expected to travel with the official Afghan negotiating team to Qatar this week for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations on Sunday.

However, the government has not yet commented on the visa issue.

A member of the Access to Information Commission meanwhile said that this was a serious concern.

“The presence of journalists should be a condition for negotiations so that they bring any decisions made about the fate of the people to light,” he said.

Initially reports indicated the Afghan talks team, led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, would leave Kabul, along with the group of journalists, on Wednesday.

However, the negotiating team will now only leave Thursday.

The Afghan negotiating team met with President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday to discuss issues around the upcoming peace talks with the Taliban.

Stanekzai briefed Ghani following the Loya Jirga’s decision on Sunday in favor of releasing the final 400 Taliban prisoners – which had been a stumbling block in the way of kick-starting negotiations.

Stanekzai stated Tuesday they will sit around the negotiating table with the Taliban as a united team in favor of “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” and they will consider the interests of the people.

Meanwhile, Ghani said the Loya Jirga had drawn a peace roadmap for government, and that they are “committed to the implementation of that.”

“We are committed to peace, the goal is to end the war in a fundamental way,” Ghani added.

He said the peace talks team will negotiate a suitable and fair peace deal with the Taliban as it is in the best interests of the people.

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China’s Tencent profit beats estimates on strong games demand

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd said second-quarter net profit rose 37%, beating market estimates, on higher demand for its video games as coronavirus put a dent in other entertainment options.

Revenue from online games, which accounts for one-third of total sales, jumped 40% in the quarter, primarily driven by smartphone games including Peacekeeper Elite and Honour of Kings. That offset a continued decline in desktop games.

Social networks, fintech and business services, and social advertising revenues all grew by nearly 30%.

Media advertising revenues fell by 25% however, “as a result of weak brand advertising demand amid the challenging macro environment”, and delayed content production and releases.

The world’s largest gaming firm by revenue booked a 33.1 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) profit for the three months through June. That was ahead of an average analysts’ estimate of 27.56 billion yuan, according to data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 29% to 114.88 billion yuan, versus market expectations of 112.76 billion yuan.

The results come a few days after the United States said it would ban WeChat-related transactions in the country.

Tencent, which owns the Chinese messaging app, is under pressure to address concerns about the impact of the ban and outline its plans to mitigate any fallout.

Source: Reuters

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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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