13 July 2020

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Monday, June 15, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan has detected polio in areas previously declared free of the life-threatening disease after immunization programs were paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday.
The polio virus has spread to three provinces that had not reported cases for up to five years, said Jan Rasekh, a spokesman for Afghanistan's polio eradication program.
Balkh, Herat and Badakhshan have each declared a single case. Although the number of new cases nationwide is lower so far this year -- with 14 compared to 26 in 2019 -- the location has sparked concern. "We had worked hard for years and cornered polio to a limited geography," Rasekh said. "
The coronavirus has helped polio spread beyond its endemic region of south and southeast, and now threatens people across the country," he added.
The UN children's agency UNICEF said last month that polio eradication drives had been suspended in dozens of countries, while measles vaccination campaigns were also put on hold in 27 nations.
There are only two nations remaining where the wild version of the polio virus continues to spread -- Pakistan and Afghanistan -- but a strain that has mutated from the vaccine itself has caused outbreaks in Africa. Up to 10 nationwide polio immunization drives are usually completed in Afghanistan every year. But only two missions were carried out before the outbreak of coronavirus, Rasekh said, adding that he hopes they can resume in July. The Taliban continues to ban authorities from conducting house-to-house campaigns -- the most effective way to fight the virus -- in areas it controls, he added. Polio immunization is compulsory in Afghanistan as government policy, but distrust of vaccines is rife. But the Taliban and religious leaders often tell communities that vaccines are a Western conspiracy aimed at sterilizing Muslim children, and believe immunization drives are used for spying on militant activities. Afghan authorities, meanwhile, are grappling with surging cases of coronavirus, as authorities struggle to impose a nationwide lockdown to curb its spread. Afghanistan has so far declared more than 24,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 471 deaths.

Monday, June 15, 2020
Kabul (BNA) President Ghani and Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, currently the Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, have agreed to hold intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, capital of Qatar during a meeting held last week. Qahtani visited Kabul and met with President Ghani and other Afghan leaders and discussed the Afghan peace process. During his visit, Qahtani also met with the Taliban delegation in Kabul. Qahtani told Qatar TV that following the meeting the Taliban released Afghan government prisoners and “more prisoners will be released in upcoming days."
The Qatari envoy hopes that the release of prisoners will be completed this week so the intra-Afghan negotiations begins soon.
A Presidential Palace official said that the government of Afghanistan has accepted that the preliminary intra-Afghan negotiations be held in Qatar, but “so far there has been no agreement over holding the main intra-Afghan talks in Qatar.”
In a virtual interview given for the Atlantic Council on Thursday, President Ghani laid out his vision for peace in Afghanistan and highlighted the importance of a ceasefire and a reduction in violence to kickstart the intra-Afghan talks.
However, president Ghani rejected the possibility of the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan as a result of a potential peace deal with the Taliban. President Ghani said that he will not repeat the historic mistake committed by the former president Dr. Najibullah. “Dr. Najibullah made the mistake of his life by announcing that he was going to resign...Please don't ask us to replay a film that we know where it ends." President Ghani said.
"I think now we are on course and next week we should be able to inform the world of the next steps," he told Atlantic Council’s Stephen Hadley as they discussed intra-Afghan negotiations. "T
he United States and Afghanistan are completely aligned. getting to peace is my absolute priority," said president Ghani. Previously, sources said that the intra-Afghan talks will be convened in Doha once the release of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners has been concluded.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi in a tweet said "the Afghan government has only agreed for a first meeting to take place in Doha" and that "there has not been any agreement yet on the venue of the direct talks."

Monday, June 15, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The Taliban have killed or wounded more than 400 Afghan security personnel over the past week, the interior ministry said Sunday, accusing the insurgents of increasing attacks ahead of expected peace talks. Violence had dropped across much of Afghanistan since the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire on May 24 to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, but officials have accused the insurgents of stepping up attacks in recent days.
"In the past one week, the Taliban carried out 222 attacks against the Afghan security forces, resulting in the death and injury of 422" personnel, interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said at a press conference. He also accused the Taliban of targeting religious scholars in a bid to put "psychological pressure" on the Afghan government. Bomb attacks on Kabul mosques that killed two prayer leaders this month were the work of the insurgents, Arian claimed. "
This has been the goal of the Taliban to target religious scholars, especially in the past two weeks," Arian said, accusing the militants of being an "umbrella group for other terrorist networks". On Friday, four people including a prayer leader were killed when a blast ripped through a mosque in Kabul during the weekly prayers. No group claimed that assault, which came just over a week after an Islamic State-claimed attack at a mosque on the edge of Kabul's heavily fortified Green Zone killed a prominent prayer leader.
The Taliban condemned both attacks. After initially reporting a drop in overall violence following the ceasefire, National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal on Sunday said the Taliban "have not reduced, but rather increased their attacks across the country". The council on Saturday also charged that the insurgents had killed 89 civilians and wounded 150 in the last two weeks.
The accusations come after the government and Taliban signalled that they were getting closer to launching much delayed peace talks. President Ghani has vowed to complete a Taliban prisoner release that is a key condition to beginning the negotiations with the insurgents aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.
The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since February, when they signed a deal with the US meant to pave the way for the talks.

Saturday June 13, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Emirates will carry passengers on flights to Afghanistan starting from June 25.
The Kabul flight takes to 30 the total number of destinations currently offered to travelers.
In addition to Kabul, the airline flies to Bahrain, London Heathrow, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Chicago, Toronto, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Manila.
In addition, Emirates now operates flights from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for travelers from Pakistan with onwards connections to other Emirates destinations.

Saturday June 13, 2020
Kabul (BNA) A group of Afghan migrants in northern Turkey stepped up to the plate to help Turkey in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. An association, set up by ethnic Afghan Hazaras settled in Turkey years ago, now runs a mask workshop. Migrants, who hail Turkey's warm embrace, say they pay off “their debt” to the country by sewing masks to be used in combatting the outbreak.
In the small workshop, members of the Culture and Solidarity Association of Afghan Hazaras in the northern Turkish city of Trabzon work behind sewing machines to sew medical masks. Members, who were trained in a local vocational learning center, make 5,000 masks a day, working six days a week.
The association’s president Muhammet Gül told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday that their organization was established in 2012 and now has branches in 16 provinces where migrants live.
“Turkey is in a much better place in the pandemic compared with other countries thanks to early measures by the state. We wanted to help the country further,” he says. Since the early days of the pandemic, the association members have been sewing masks. Currently, eight migrants work at the workshop. “We started with 1,000 masks a day and managed to increase it to 5,000. We handed them public agencies. We gave 10,500 masks to the Trabzon Governorate and thousands of others to municipalities. So far, we produced 100,000 masks and have 20,000 more ready for delivery,” he said. Gül noted that other migrants were also producing soap to fight the pandemic. “Turkey has been a big brother for us and we are ready to do anything for the country,” he said.
Musa Hüseyni, one of the workers at the workshop, said they supported Turkey’s fight against the pandemic and sought to help authorities by sewing masks.
Thousands of volunteers all across the country have been working day and night to produce masks and protective gear for health care workers embattled by the coronavirus cases since the outbreak made its way into Turkey in March.
Turkey initially delivered free masks to each citizen and authorities assured that there won’t be any shortages, both for citizens and for health care workers. Later, it allowed for the sale of masks for a fixed, low price. Since the outbreak grew, vocational schools, vocational learning centers of local administrations and private companies started producing masks. Skilled people of all ages volunteer to work around the clock in sewing workshops. Some vocational schools and individuals who own 3D printers are also volunteering to produce face shields.

Saturday June 13, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Four people, including Imam of a mosque were martyred in an explosion inside Shir Shah-e-Suri mosque located in 3rd security precinct of Kabul city yesterday.
Tariq Arian spokesman for ministry of interior in a tweeted stated, "Explosives materials placed inside the mosque exploded during Friday prayers, in which four prayers including Mawlavi Azizullah Mufleh imam of the mosque were martyred and several more were wounded.
Earlier this month, IS planted explosives at a mosque in Kabul's posh Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, killing the prayer leader and wounding eight others.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region earlier this week trying to resuscitate a peace deal that Washington and the Taliban signed in February to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan -- the longest military conflict in U.S. history.

Saturday June 13, 2020
Kabul (BNA) COVID-19 is exacting a heavy toll on already struggling families across Afghanistan. An estimated 8.12 million children – or 4 in 10 – will need some form of emergency assistance in 2020.[1]
Earlier this year Save the Children warned that an estimated 5.26 million children in Afghanistan would need help to survive in 2020. Since the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on Afghan public services, access to healthcare, and the economy, all of which are heavily reliant on foreign aid, the number of children needing life-saving support is spiking.
The latest UN estimates suggest 14 million people in Afghanistan – nearly 40 percent of the population – now need help to survive this year, up from 9.4 million just six months ago – that’s nearly a 50 percent increase since December 2019.
COVID-19 in Afghanistan is having a catastrophic impact on millions of vulnerable families.  Preliminary World Bank estimates show that the pandemic and related containment measures are leading to massive disruptions to imports including vital household items, which in turn is leading to rapid inflation. Border closures have also meant a drastic reduction in exports and a sharp decline in remittances.[2]
Large sections of the population depend on casual labour and jobs that are particularly vulnerable to lockdowns and social distancing measures, such as working in markets and selling goods in shops and on the street. Even before COVID-19 emerged, 93 percent of Afghan households survived on less than $2 per day so the vast majority of families have virtually no capacity to absorb the economic shock of COVID-19 and the resulting loss of livelihoods.[3] Meanwhile, the price of staple foods, such as flour, pulses, rice, cooking oil and sugar continue to increase, making it harder and harder for families to feed themselves.[4]
14-year-old Abdul* lives in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. When asked if COVID-19 has changed anything for his friends and family, Abdul said:
“The residents of our community are very poor and aren’t happy with [movement] restrictions taken during these days. They can’t find proper food for the rest of their family members and it is very difficult to find daily wage work in our community as well as around. We can’t play openly in our community as we were playing before so this has become very tough for all the children."
Many Afghans are almost wholly dependent on humanitarian support to survive, particularly the most vulnerable and remote communities in a country plagued by decades of conflict and frequent disasters such as floods and droughts, made worse by erratic weather patterns. Save the Children is calling for the borders to remain open for commercial and humanitarian imports as well as supply routes within the country. This would help keep inflation in check while allowing aid agencies to distribute life-saving food and medicine where it is needed most.
Milan Dinic, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, said:
“Despite Afghanistan’s numerous challenges, years of international aid and development were starting to pay off, with record numbers of children in school, and progress on issues such as child labour, poverty, hunger, and child marriage. The COVID19 pandemic means these hard-won gains could roll back in a matter of weeks unless there is a rapid escalation of humanitarian support.”
“For millions, health facilities are simply not easily accessible. The few that are operating and accessible lack basic resources, including COVID-19 testing kits and capacity to treat the very sick. It is therefore vital that humanitarian and commercial goods are allowed to flow into Afghanistan, and rapidly sent to where they are needed most.
“In its latest Afghanistan plan the UN is asking the world for more than one billion dollars to help meet the basic needs of Afghans. This is a big ask during a global economic crisis. But such crises always hit the poorest countries and the poorest families the hardest. The international community has an obligation to step up and ensure the safety, health and well-being of millions of Afghan children put at risk by circumstances beyond their control. Now is the time to show solidarity with a country ravaged by decades of conflict, vulnerable to the effects of climate change and caught in the grip of a global health crisis.”

Tuesday June 08, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Counter-narcotic drug police personnel during several separate military operations succeeded to discover and seize some narcotic drug and alcoholic beverage in different parts of Nangarhar, Faryab and Nimroze provinces.
Ministry of Interior by releasing a statement issued that, counter-narcotic drug police personnel of Nimroz's police chief have discovered 95 kg narcotic drug type of opium during a military operation conducted in Darweshak region, Kang district of the province.
No one was arrested accused of the case.
Also, three smugglers were arrested accused of narcotic drug smuggling in Roudat and Deh Bala districts of Nangarhar province, the statement added.
Some narcotics drugs type of opium and hashish have been discovered from them, the statement further added.
Meanwhile, counter-narcotic drug police personnel of Faryab’s police chief by launching an operation succeeded to arrest a person along with 51 liters alcoholic beverage in 3PD Maimana city the provincial capital of Faryab province, the statement concluded.

Tuesday June 09, 2020
Kabul (BNA) A big distributor of narcotic drug was arrested during a military operation launched by Afghan national police force in Kabul city yesterday.
Ministry of Interior in a statement reported that the big distributor of narcotic drug was arrested in relevant areas of seven precinct of Kabul city.
Since long time, the suspect pursued by Afghan national police personnel, the statement added.

Tuesday June 09, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Afghan national police personnel by conducting several military operations succeeded to detain 11 people accused of different criminal cases in western Herat province within the last 36 hours.
Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement reported that the people were arrested accused of murder, armed robbery and harassing people in various parts of Herat province.
Four pistols, a vehicle, five motorcycles, some money and 2 site of mobiles have seized from them, the statement added.
Dossiers of arrested suspects have delivered to judicial organs for further investigation.

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