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World Bank backs using $280 million in frozen aid funds for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2021)

The World Bank’s board has backed transferring $280 million from a frozen trust fund to two aid agencies to help Afghanistan cope with a brewing humanitarian crisis after the U.S. withdrawal, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The 31 donors to the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) must approve the transfer before the funds could flow to the World Food Programme and UNICEF, the sources said. The donors were expected to meet on Friday, Reuters reported.

The World Bank board met informally on Tuesday to discuss transferring up to $500 million of the $1.5 billion in the ARTF to humanitarian aid agencies, people familiar with the plan previously told Reuters.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty three months after the Taliban seized power as the last U.S. troops withdrew from 20 years of war.

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Pakistan NSA claims Afghan soil still being used against Pakistan, IEA denies

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2022)

Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf has claimed Thursday that Afghan soil was still being used against Pakistan, Dawn News reported.

Briefing Pakistan’s National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf has also claimed that “organized terrorist networks” are operating in the country.

“Had a very productive discussion on the National Security Policy (NSP) and Afghanistan. I am grateful for the appreciation we received for our work from members of the committee,” Yusuf tweeted.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), however, has consistently emphasized that Afghanistan’s territory is not a threat to any country and that no terrorist group is allowed to operate against other countries from inside Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate has good relations with all countries in the region and we do not want any country to be threatened by Afghanistan,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate.

Pakistani NSA, meanwhile, informed lawmakers that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had unilaterally broken the month-long ceasefire agreement with the government.

“Those who declare war on the country will be dealt with an iron fist,” said Yusuf quoted by the Dawn News.

 

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Qatar, Turkiye, IEA agree on ‘several key issues’ to run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2022)

Qatar, Turkiye, and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) agreed on “several key issues” to operate the airport in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday.

“The delegations of the State of Qatar, the Republic of Turkey and the Afghan caretaker government concluded Thursday in Doha a tripartite meeting on the management and operation of Kabul International Airport,” a Qatari Foreign Ministry statement said.

“They agreed on several key issues on how to manage and operate the airport,” the ministry added.

The ministry said that the meeting in Doha came as a continuation of previous talks, the latest round of which took place in Kabul last week.

The final round of negotiations will take place next week, it added.

Flights were suspended at Afghanistan’s main international airport in Kabul after the IEA took over power last August and the US troops destroyed equipment and a radar system at the facility before leaving the country.

In late December 2021, diplomatic sources told Anadolu Agency that Turkiye and Qatar agreed to jointly operate the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan.

After talks between committees from both countries, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Turkish and Qatari companies to operate the airport in collaboration on the basis of equal partnership.

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Bus services restart in Kabul and provinces: officials

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2022)

Meli Bus company officials said on Thursday that they have restarted bus services in Kabul and some provinces in the country.

According to officials, 100 buses in Kabul city are back on the road and 32 others are operational in Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar, Laghman, Parwan and Paktia provinces.

“Buses are running in Kabul city on many routes, and will continue in the future. We are working on [restoring services] in the province also,” said Mohammad Ayoub Mohammadi, head of Meli Bus company.

Kabul residents welcomed the move and many said that their transport problems will now be resolved.

“It is a positive step in this bad economic situation. Facilitation should be brought to people’s lives,” said Zakriya, a resident of Kabul.

“Before that the officials were renting these cars (buses), it was not good. Now it should be managed very well,” said Anayatullah, a Kabul resident.

Kabul municipality officials meanwhile said that they have removed many concrete barriers in the city, and that efforts are underway to make things easier for commuters.

“We have cleared many of the places and routes in coordination with the Ministry of Interior,” said Namatullah Barakzai, spokesman for the Kabul municipality.

This comes amid complaints by Kabul residents of high taxi fares.

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