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Without work and food, hundreds flee to Pakistan and Iran daily

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(Last Updated On: October 2, 2021)

A main bus terminal in Kabul is nowadays crowded as many residents of the city try to find their way out of Afghanistan into some neighboring countries.

Bus drivers at the Paitakht Bus Terminal said many families were trying to leave Kabul each day, but many could not afford the bus fare to destinations near the border cities.

“There are many families traveling (out of here) these says days. Most of them travel from here to Mazar-i-Sharif, and then many of them cross the border to Iran from Mazar-i-Sharif,” said bus driver Sahil.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate government, prices for staples like flour, fuel and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

Some humanitarian aid has started to arrive and limited trade has returned across land borders with Pakistan, but a severe cash shortage is crippling day-to-day economic activity and decades of war have left much infrastructure in tatters.

Foreign aid payments, which accounted for 40% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, have all but stopped as the West considers how to deal with the IEA that, until August, led an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government.

Abdullah, one Kabul resident hoping to leave, said: “We will leave for Pakistan or Iran because we don’t have work here. We work the whole day for a single bite of bread. What else can we do? We have brought these items at home and have brought them here to sell, since there is no money and no work.”

This comes amid a continuing economic crisis including a severe cash shortage in the heavily dollarized country.

With dollar shipments to Afghanistan having been stopped and with sanctions against the IEA in place, thousands of government employees have not been paid and work has dried up especially as banks have a strict weekly withdrawal limit.

Members of a Russia-led security bloc that includes some countries adjacent or close to Afghanistan meanwhile have no plans to host Afghan refugees, bloc member Kazakhstan said last week.

The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) includes three Central Asian nations – Tajikistan, which has a lengthy border with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan – as well as several more remote former Soviet republics.

At a heads-of-state meeting of the bloc in Tajikistan on Thursday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev “supported the joint CSTO position that the placement of Afghan refugees or foreign military bases on our countries’ territories is unacceptable”, his office said in a statement.

Two more Central Asian nations, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, border Afghanistan but are not CSTO members. However, Uzbekistan has also said it would only allow short-term transit of refugees by planes to third countries.

Health

WHO calls for $378 million to prevent collapse of health centers

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

World Health Organization (WHO) officials on Tuesday said they have requested $378 million in aid in order to prevent Afghanistan’s health services from collapsing.

Dr Jamshed Tanoli, WHO’s health sector coordinater, said during a visit to Kandahar province on Monday, along with UN officials, that efforts are underway to keep 2,331 health centers open in Afghanistan.

“We are advocating to convince World Bank, USAID, and the European Union to sustain the funding to ensure that after June 22 we should have a medium to long term strategy to ensure the continuity of health services… also to focus on the COVID-19 as a whole you know the surveillance and laboratories expansion including the treatment centers,,” said Tanoli.

This comes after WHO warned earlier that Afghanistan’s health system is close to collapsing.
“We came here to let you know that we are here to serve the people of Afghanistan,” he said adding that the head of the cluster has requested almost 378 million (dollars).

“So that we are advocating Inshallah to get those funds to ensure the continuity of the services through the NGOs and of course through UN agencies and through all the partners,” said Tanoli.

United Nations Development Program in Afghanistan (UNDP) meanwhile said that the UN will play a greater role in the development of Afghanistan.

“So we are not here to provide the people a package of food, there are other agencies that do that. We are here to see how the people can have enough income to buy their own food,” said Abdullah Al Dardari, head of UNDP in Afghanistan.

The Kandahar governor, on the other hand, said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is taking serious measures to provide security for international aid organizations.

“Necessary aid should be delivered for Afghan people. People face a lot of problems. Most people in Dand, Arghistan, Arghandab, Panjwayi and Zhari have been displaced. They lost their houses during US bombardments, now they don’t have any shelter,” said Haji Mohammad Yousuf Wafa, Kandahar’s governor.

This comes as many UN aid agencies warn of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan offers to host ‘urgent’ OIC meeting on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Pakistan on Monday offered to host an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers meeting on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan that has been called for by Saudi Arabia.

“We have also offered to host the meeting, in Islamabad, on 17 December 2021. We are confident that OIC member states will endorse this offer,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to a statement issued by Said Arabia’s official news agency SPA, the kingdom said: “Guided by principles of Islamic solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as Chair of the Islamic Summit, and in line with relevant OIC decisions on Afghanistan, called upon the OIC to, urgently, convene an Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country and pathways for an urgent humanitarian response.”

The statement noted that the objectives of the meeting were to explore “means and mechanisms” for aid delivery in coordination with UN agencies, international financial institutions, and the international community for mitigating the humanitarian crisis.

“Impending economic collapse and further deterioration of living conditions will lead to more instability within Afghanistan, which will adversely affect regional and international peace and security,” the kingdom warned.

Pakistan’s Dawn News reported that Qureshi in turn stated that Afghans need assistance “more than ever before”.

“As you are aware, Afghanistan currently faces a serious humanitarian situation — millions of Afghans, including women and children, confront an uncertain future due to shortage of food, medicine and other essential life supplies. The advent of winter has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The foreign minister urged the OIC to step in to help Afghans. “We should step up our collective efforts to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, provide immediate and sustained support to them, and continue to remain engaged with them for the well-being and prosperity of Afghanistan,” he said.

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Five wounded in Kabul explosion

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

At least five people including Islamic Emirate (IE) forces were wounded on Monday morning when a roadside mine detonated in PD7 along Darulaman Road.

The explosion took place at about 9.45am local time close to Habibia High School and the target appeared to have been a Hilux vehicle.

According to eyewitnesses, the explosion had been from a roadside mine and caused casualties.

Some eyewitnesses said the Hilux vehicle was being driven by IE forces at the time of the explosion.

An Ariana News reporter in the area said according to eyewitnesses at least five people were wounded in the explosion including IE forces.

Immediately after the explosion, IE forces cordoned off the area, and ambulances were seen arriving at the scene.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the explosion but ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan (ISIS-K), known locally as Daesh, have been responsible for a number of explosions in Kabul in recent months.

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