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Withdrawing without Taliban commitment to peace would be “rash”: former NATO SCR

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(Last Updated On: June 7, 2020)

Former NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Sir Nicholas Kay, has warned that withdrawing international troops without a full Taliban commitment to peace would be “rash”.

In an interview with the Forces News, Kay said, “It would be very rash for us to have a comprehensive military withdrawal from Afghanistan before there is a comprehensive political peace agreement.”

The US and Taliban signed an agreement for bringing peace in Afghanistan on February 29, in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

According to the deal, the Afghan government would release up to five thousand Taliban and the US forces would leave Afghanistan within 14 months after the deal.

In exchange, the Taliban militant group would release 1,000 prisoners of the Afghan government and it promised to stop al-Qaeda operating in the areas of its control.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Kay told the Forces News that the only commitment on the NATO side is “for this first stage of withdrawal down to 12,000 and then there would be a stocktake.”

Kay, however, said that the deal is conditions-based, adding, “If the Taliban do not live up to their commitments, then there will not be a deal.”

“Those commitments have to be demonstrated,” he noted.

One of the commitments the Taliban are expected to fulfill is the reduction of violence, but this is not the reality at the moment.

“Yes, the Taliban stopped attacking coalition forces. Yes, they stopped attacking high-profile targets in cities […] but they were killing Afghan security forces, Afghan civilians in rural areas [and] districts across the country at a very high rate.”

The next step of the process, the former ambassador explained, should be the beginning of actual negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the wider Afghan society.

Earlier, sources said that the first round of talks between the Afghans is scheduled to take place on June 15, but sources close to the Taliban have said that talks would not begin unless all 5,000 Taliban prisoners are released.

COVID-19

Afghanistan Coronavirus updates: 34,194 cases, 971 deaths

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped to 34,194 with 971 deaths in Afghanistan.

According to daily Coronavirus, updates released the Public Health Ministry, 286 new Coronavirus cases have been registered in the past 24 hours.

The cases were recorded in Kabul 83, Herat 81, Balkh 9, Nangarhar 1, Bamyan 30, Takhar 5, Baghlan 3, Badghis 30, Logar 2, Kunduz 5, Parwan 2, Diakundi 16, Wardak 3, Laghman 1, Panjsher 2, and Ghor 13.

Meanwhile, 12 COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours. The death cases were reported as follows: Kabul (10), Herat (2), Maidan Wardak (1), and Takhar (1).

The Health Ministry said that 41 patients have been discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total recoveries to 20,882 in the country.

It comes that World Bank has approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

The World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

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Afghan forces push back Taliban attacks – Ghazni

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The Afghan forces have pushed back Taliban attacks in central Ghazni province, the Defense Ministry (MoD) said.

In a statement released on Friday, the MoD said the militants have carried out attacks in Shalez and Asheqwal areas in the center of Ghazni province on Thursday that faced resistance by the Afghan security and defense forces.

According to the statement, the Afghan forces pushed back the attacks, killing eight Taliban militants and wounding three more.

The Defense Ministry did not provide details of the casualty of the Afghan forces.

The Taliban militant group yet to comment about the incident.

It comes as the Taliban apparently has intensified attacks in a number of provinces which shows a clash to the Doha agreement to bring peace in Afghanistan.

Two days ago the group carried out a car bomb suicide attack in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kut district which result in the killing of two policemen and wounding of 15 more. In Ghazni, the Taliban target police commander of Deh Yak district as well.

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World Bank provides $200 million for Afghanistan to protect people, support businesses amid COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

In a statement released on Thursday, the World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant will support the government of Afghanistan to strengthen policies that promote faster recovery and keep basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and telecommunications afloat and running, the statement said.

“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“Policy actions supported by the program will both help mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on the poor and vulnerable and also lay critical foundations for longer-term recovery. The World Bank will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan through this crisis,” Kerali added.

The World Bank said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant adverse health, social, and economic impacts in Afghanistan, shrinking the economy and driving down public revenue.

“The grant will support changes in regulations to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, protect healthcare workers, and raise awareness on gender-based violence in schools,” it stated.

The organization added that it will also support plans to encourage students to return to school when educational institutions are to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 33,908 with 957 and 20,847 recoveries in Afghanistan.

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