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World Bank grants $25M to improve education in Afghanistan, especially for girls

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(Last Updated On: April 2, 2021)

The World Bank has approved an additional $25 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to help increase equitable access to primary and secondary education in Afghanistan, particularly for girls.

The World Bank said in a statement that the new grant for the Education Quality Reform in Afghanistan (EQRA) project will help build 100 additional schools, further improve learning and access to education for girls, support teachers’ training, and promote community-based education.    

The EQRA project is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to strengthen education systems in lower-income countries.

“Afghanistan has made much progress in improving education in the last two decades, but 3.5 million children remain out of school, and half of the country’s schools still have the minimal infrastructure,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“This additional financing will help the Afghan government create a better learning environment and enroll more children in schools,” Kerali added.

“Girls’ education is one of the smartest investments a country can make: it boosts economic growth, curbs infant mortality, and improves child nutrition,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of GPE.

“GPE will continue to do its part so that millions of girls and boys, especially the most vulnerable, can go to school and learn,” she said.

According to the statement, over the past decade, Afghanistan has made great strides in improving access to education, but learning poverty is among the highest in the world.

“The World Bank and its partners are dedicated to supporting the government of Afghanistan to improve primary and secondary education,” the statement read.

“GPE is a shared commitment to ending the world’s learning crisis. We mobilize partners and funds to support up to 90 lower-income countries and territories to transform their education systems so that every girl and boy can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential and contribute to building a better world,” the statement concluded.

 

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No guarantees about Afghanistan’s future post-pullout: American NSA

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

No one can offer guarantees about Afghanistan’s future after U.S. troops leave, a top White House official said on Sunday, even as he stressed the United States would stay focused on terrorist threats emanating from the country.

This comes after US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that United States will withdraw all remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked about the risk of a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where Islamic State (ISIS) militants seized territory after U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.

That led then-President Barack Obama to send troops back into Iraq.

Sullivan said Biden had no intention of sending American forces back to Afghanistan, but he added: “I can’t make any guarantees about what will happen inside the country. No one can.”

“All the United States could do is provide the Afghan security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people resources and capabilities, training and equipping their forces, providing assistance to their government. We have done that and now it is time for American troops to come home and the Afghan people to step up to defend their own country.”

But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected what he said were “false analogies” with the war in Vietnam as well as any suggestion his government was at risk of folding under Taliban pressure after U.S. troops leave. Afghan security forces were capable of defending the country, he said.

“The Afghan defense and security forces have been carrying over 90% of the operations in the last two years,” Ghani said in an interview with CNN.

Meanwhile former president Donald Trump said in a statement that leaving Afghanistan was “a wonderful and positive thing to do,” but called for a more rapid departure. Trump had set a May 1 deadline to withdraw.

CIA Director William Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that America’s ability to collect intelligence and act against extremist threats in Afghanistan will diminish after the departure of U.S. troops, Reuters reported.

A United Nations report in January said there were as many as 500 al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban maintained a close relationship with the group. The Taliban denies al-Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan.

Announcing his decision to withdraw troops, Biden said the United States would monitor the threat, reorganize counterterrorism capabilities and keep substantial assets in the region to respond to threats to the United States emerging from Afghanistan.

“He has no intention of taking our eye off the ball,” Sullivan said of the president.

“We have the capacity, from repositioning our capabilities over the horizon, to continue to suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan.”

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Germany will not abandon Afghan staff, minister says

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Germany will not let down its Afghan staff as the international military mission in the country, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged on Sunday.

“I feel it is Germany’s sincere duty to not leave these people without protection now that we will permanently withdraw,” the defence ministry in Berlin said on Twitter, quoting extracts from an interview with German news agency DPA.

U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO on Wednesday announced that they would withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Germany is the second-largest contingent with about 1,100 troops.

The withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt into full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

The German forces currently employ about 300 Afghans as interpreters and in other jobs, according to the defence ministry in Berlin.

Since 2013 Germany has admitted nearly 800 Afghans at risk in their own country after working for the foreign military, as well as about 2,500 family members.

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Two policemen killed in Taliban group attack in Baghlan

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

At least two policemen were killed and six others were wounded in a Taliban group attack in Baghlan province on Sunday night, police said Monday.

Police said the Taliban attacked Fabreka Qand Township in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district.

According to them, at least six Taliban insurgents were also killed and eight more were wounded in the ensuing clash between the insurgents and Afghan security forces.

“Afghan forces responded strongly to the Taliban’s attacks and pushed them back,” said Jawed Basharat, spokesman for Baghlan police.

Sayed Kamal Wardak, district governor for Baghlan Markazi district told Ariana News that the clash started on Sunday night at around midnight and lasted until 5am on Monday.

“At least one police Humvee burnt out and another one was seized by the Taliban,” said Wardak.

Police chief Sayed Ashraf Sadat along with other reinforcements are in the area and said the Taliban suffered heavy casualties but he did not provide further details.

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