28 January 2020

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Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Talk of peace has returned to Afghanistan, with the prospect of talks between the U.S. administration and the Taliban being revived. We can faintly discern the outlines of a potential deal: a timeline set for withdrawal, a possible reduction in violence, and an eventual power-sharing agreement – the details of which will be furiously debated in hotel boardrooms. What is missing, yet again, is the fate of the Afghan people themselves. Will any such agreement ensure that their rights – including to freedom of expression, to equality and nondiscrimination, to justice – are respected?
For all the talk of peace, the armed conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down. It is widening and the toll on civilians continues unabated. Last year was one of the deadliest on record for Afghanistan. In the first nine months alone, at least 2,563 civilians were killed and 5,676 wounded. Afghanistan continues to be the deadliest conflict in the world for children. Civilians were deliberately and indiscriminately targeted by the Taliban, in war crimes that did not spare schools and mosques. Furthermore, the armed group calling itself the Islamic State in Khorasan ruthlessly deployed its virulent sectarianism in the bombing of a Shi’a Hazara wedding, claiming the lives of nearly 100 people, many of them children, and wounding nearly twice as many.
Most of the killings from January to September, however, weren’t committed by armed groups. They were the responsibility of Afghanistan’s own armed forces, including clandestine armed groups, and the international forces supporting them. As a United Nations report detailed last year, the bombings of alleged methamphetamine labs claimed the lives of more than 60 civilians. In December, a U.S. operated drone strike killed five people traveling by car, including a mother who had just given birth. On the ground, night-time “search operations” have led to further deaths. Last September, in Nangarhar province, the National Directorate for Security carried out an operation that killed four brothers – triggering an outcry that led to the resignation of Afghanistan’s top spymaster.
The current war in Afghanistan is often referred to as America’s longest, now in its 19th year. What is often forgotten is that, for Afghanistan, there have been four decades of near-continuous conflict. Over that time, one in three Afghans have been forcibly displaced, leaving millions to become refugees in neighboring countries. The families who grieve for their victims today have lowered loved ones into early graves before – under the Taliban, during the internal conflict of the 1990s, and during the Soviet occupation.
We don’t know how many people were killed in those earlier conflicts. There are thousands of families who still don’t know what happened to their loved ones who left their homes one day to never return. What we do have are the United Nations’ records on the past decade. They tell the story of nearly 100,000 Afghan civilians killed or injured since 2009. Nearly 34,000 of them were killed. More than 22,000 of the dead were children, and nearly 9,000 were women. They came from all parts of the country – every age group, every ethnicity, every religious sect, every province. The one thing that unites every Afghan is a memory of tragic loss.
For Afghanistan’s victims, there has been no justice. The Afghan government, the United States, and other international partners have repeatedly failed not just to protect civilians but to undertake genuine investigations and prosecutions for crimes under international law. Given this dereliction of its duty, it fell to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out its own investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides of the conflict since 2003, when Afghanistan became a state party to the Rome Statute. Instead of cooperating, the Trump administration took steps to coerce the court into submission with threats of reprisals. In insisting on its own right to impunity, the United States is ironically also shielding the Taliban and other armed groups from accountability.
Unfortunately, the ICC refused to open an investigation, citing as part of its reasons the likelihood that the U.S. and Afghanistan would not cooperate with an investigation. The court’s decision is currently under appeal. If the court does not reverse its decision, it will have — as the international community has always done — failed the victims of conflict in Afghanistan. There have been 699 victims’ representations submitted to the ICC’s pre-trial chamber; 680 of these representations welcomed the prospect of an investigation aimed at bringing those responsible to justice, preventing crimes, and establishing the truth.
Any peace deal must also adhere to these terms. No one desires peace more than the people of Afghanistan, who have suffered so much, for so long. But peace cannot merely mean the cessation of armed hostilities. For a peace process to be worthy of its name, it must not ignore Afghan voices – especially those of Afghan women – and their calls for justice and accountability. And it must guarantee the human rights they have worked so hard for over the past two decades.
Thediplomat
Ansari


 

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Turkmenistan is developing humanitarian aid program for Afghanistan for the years of 2020-2022, Trend reports with reference to the Turkmen Government.
The document is being prepared in the context of the peaceful development of Afghanistan and was discussed at a government meeting, Turkmenistan State News Agency reported.
For many years Afghanistan has been receiving electricity and liquefied gas from Turkmenistan at preferential prices in the direction of the Imamnazar-Andkhoy and Serhetabat-Herat power transmission lines. The Rabatkashan-Kalainau border power line has also been commissioned to supply Turkmen electricity to the northern regions of Afghanistan.
Turkmenistan supports the implementation of a number of regional infrastructure projects involving Afghanistan. In particular, Ashgabat is working on the implementation of projects through Afghanistan’s territory, such as the construction of a railway to Tajikistan and a pipeline to Pakistan and India.
The projects on the use of Afghanistan’s territory as a transit route for the supply of Turkmen electricity are also being considered.
Trend
Ansari

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) A young Afghan girl with paralyzed hands and feet makes a living for her family by selling the paintings she draws with her mouth.
Rubaba Muhammadi, 20, who has painted a total of 250 pictures since her childhood without taking any formal education, also gives painting lessons to about 25 people, including people with disabilities in her home.
“I started painting by being influenced by a rose that I saw on television,” Muhammadi told Anadolu Agency, saying being paralyzed is not an obstacle for her.
“People in my condition should never lose hope”, she said, adding: “There is nothing they cannot achieve by making efforts.”
Expressing her love for Turkey, Muhammedi said: “My biggest dream is to settle in Turkey and open a painting exhibition.”
Noting that she painted a picture which depicts the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkey, Muhammadi said: “I really wanted to give this to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I handed it over to our own president, and he promised me that he would give it to Erdogan.”
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Anadolu Agency
Ansari

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) After her husband was killed and their home in Baghlan province torched in Afghanistan’s long-running war, Nasim Gul fled nearly 200 miles to Kabul with her four children and moved in with her cousin, sewing clothes to eke out a living.
As a widow, Gul could not claim the small plot of land her husband had tended, nor was she welcome in her family home, which she had left as a young bride.
“Without my husband, it was very difficult for me to find a home,” said Gul, 45, who wears a burqa that covers her from head to toe when she steps outside the home.
“It has been hard living with my cousin for nine years. But no one was willing to give a home to a single woman,” she said.
Gul is one of an estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan who have been disproportionately affected by the war.
Often uneducated and with few livelihood options, they are also generally denied a share of land and property, even though these rights are recognized in the Afghan constitution, its Civil Code and in Islamic sharia law, women’s rights groups say.
Security of tenure is usually tied to men, and Afghan cultural norms and customary practices often deny women these rights, particularly those who are widowed or divorced, said Sheila Qayumi at the nonprofit Equality for Peace and Democracy.
“Especially in the provinces, women face severe restrictions and are treated no better than a cow or a goat. They have no rights, and their names are generally not on any documents, so it can be hard for them to claim their legal rights,” she said.
“Divorced and widowed women often have to live in the homes of their male relatives or in-laws, where they can also face harassment or violence if they claimed their land or property rights. So they often give up their claim to avoid that.”
HARASSMENT AND HURDLES
Women have made huge strides in the conservative country since a ban during Taliban rule of 1996 to 2001 from school, work, politics and going outside without a male relative.
But while growing numbers of women now complete education and work in previously male bastions, they continue to face harassment and hurdles, human rights groups say.
This is true particularly of housing, land and property. Only about 12% of land in Afghanistan is arable, according to the World Bank, and 40 years of conflict have left warlords and powerful landlords in control.
Today, about 2.5 million registered refugees in the world are from Afghanistan, the highest number after Syria, according to the United Nations. In addition, more than 2 million have been internally displaced by the fighting.
As hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are forced back, or return of their own accord, many have opted to settle in cities for work and have struggled to find housing. So, they have built illegal homes on any patch of available land.
These informal structures make up more than two-thirds of the settlements in big cities including Kabul, according to government authorities.
Housing for returning refugees and female-headed households is a priority, said Arifullah Arif, plan and policy director for the Ministry of Urban Development and Land.
The government aims to hand out at least 200,000 apartments and plots this year, and build additional housing as required, he said in an interview.
It also aims to give one million “Occupancy Certificates” to informal settlers over the next three years. The certificate protects the holder from eviction for five years, after which they are eligible to apply for a land title.
Unusually for Afghanistan, the certificates are issued in the names of both the husband and wife, and just the woman in the case of female-headed households.
In Kabul’s District 1, the smallest of the city’s 22 districts, about 550 households - out of more than 9,600 - have received Occupancy Certificates, many of them female-headed households, said deputy municipal director Wahida Samadi.
“Putting the names of women on the certificates has had a major impact, culturally and psychologically,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in her office.
“With the joint title, women are more secure that they won’t be divorced or abandoned by their husbands. For widows, it means more security and a place in society,” she said.
For Rogul Yermal, 62, a widow who received an Occupancy Certificate two years ago, it has meant just that.
When her husband died 15 years ago, his male cousin tried to oust her several times from her modest home on a hillside. He only backed off when her young sons resisted, she said.
Since she got the certificate, Yermal has painted her 100-square-metre (1,076-square-foot) home and used the document as collateral for a bank loan for a house for her youngest son.
“I never had any documents in my name before,” she said.
“Since I got the certificate, I feel safe and can sleep well, knowing no one can take my house from me.”
ROOT CAUSE
Across the world, land is increasingly seen as a root cause of conflict. In the aftermath of war, access to and control of land and natural resources can be a contentious issue for years.
Dysfunctional legal systems, corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, and the loss of legal documents and land records make it particularly hard to resolve land disputes during and after war, according to researchers.
Afghan women, particularly widows, face major hurdles to accessing the security that land and property can give them, said Jon Unruh, an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal, who studies land rights in conflict situations.
“Ways of attaching themselves to their lands is a problem because they may not have documents attesting to their marriage, or their names are not on land documents because the lands were registered in the names of their husbands,” he said.
Human rights groups say more Afghan women are bringing cases of inheritance rights to court, particularly in urban areas, as awareness grows. Yet there are concerns that the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops may stall hard-won progress.
Even when they do manage to own land or property, for many Afghan women the struggle is far from over.
In Deh Sabz district, about an hour’s drive northeast of Kabul, Tahera Mohamedi is awaiting the completion of her home by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on land allocated by the government.
Mohamedi, 50, fled to Kabul with her family 10 years ago from Bamiyan province amidst fierce fighting. Shortly afterwards, her husband died, and she was left to raise their five children by baking bread for neighbors in a tandoor oven.
Mohamedi rented a small home from a male relative who lives in Iran, but has fallen behind on payments.
“He has been harassing me to pay up or leave his house,” she said, as she hunched over the tandoor.
“I am happy I will finally have my own home, but I worry that he can still take it from me somehow.”
That is a concern for Gul, as well, who six years ago received a plot of land in Barikab, a small settlement north of Kabul ringed by the snow-capped Hindu Kush Mountains.
With no money to spare, she was unable to build a house until NRC stepped in to construct a one-room home with an outdoor toilet.
“I am very happy that I can once again live in my own home with my family,” Gul said.
“But I also worry about the safety of my daughters without a man in the house. As a widow, everything is harder.”
Reuters
Ansari

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Nooruddin watched helplessly as his flock of 100 sheep began to die from hunger and thirst on the dry drought-ravaged hillsides of Balkh province.
Rather than let more of the prized creatures die a slow death on the dry hillsides of Balkh province in the north, he made the decision to slaughter most of the rest.
"I cut their heads off," the 65-year-old herder said, adding that their malnourished frames meant their meat was "useless".
"We fed it to the dogs," Nooruddin told AFP.
He's one of many whose traditional livelihoods -- from farmers to carpet weavers -- are under threat as changing weather patterns wreak havoc.
Experts warn the situation will only get worse, with Afghanistan one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, even though it produces just 0.1 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
For many this latest drought is the worst they can recall.
"I've seen droughts before, but never as severe," said livestock trader Mirza, who like many residents only uses one name.
"A lot of sheep and animals died on the mountains and in the desert," the 45-year-old added.
Mohammed Aref, a 19-year-old shepherd who raises karakul sheep -- famed for their curly-haired lambs' pelts that are turned into traditional hats -- said shepherds sold off their emaciated animals for pittance to butchers.
"A lot of us had a big loss," Aref told AFP from the noisy livestock market outside Mazar-i-Sharif, on a crisp, early winter morning.
"Most of us can't afford to get more (livestock) and now our life is ruined."
- Huge temperature rise -
Aref and other Balkh residents have no notion of climate change as it is understood in places with better access to information and education, but all agreed things were changing.
The last big drought they remembered was about a decade ago. Before that, there hadn't been one for about 50 years, they said.
"We had a drought 12 years ago," recalled 68-year-old Aynoddin, another karakul sheep farmer, "but last year's was the worst".
According to the United Nations Development Program, about 80 percent of Afghans rely on rain-fed crop and animal farming for their incomes.
Over the next four decades in Afghanistan, scientists predict a decrease in rainfall and a rise in average temperatures of up to 4 degrees Celsius compared to 1999, the UNDP said.
The agency noted droughts could soon be considered the norm, unleashing further desertification and loss of arable land.
Problems are only compounded when rains do eventually come. Last spring, flash floods swept entire villages and fields away.
The UN said in an overview of last year's aid operations that nearly half of all rural residents now face some level of food insecurity in Afghanistan, a country where unemployment and poverty are already major drivers of the war.
While light rains in the autumn eased woes for some, the weather has since dried up again.
Asked if they worried for the coming year, several farmers gave a common Afghan response.
"If there is a drought, God will decide, so I don't worry," Aynoddin said.
- Looming crisis for weavers -
The Global Adaptation Initiative, run by the University of Notre Dame in the US, currently ranks Afghanistan 173 out of the 181 countries it scored in terms of a nation's vulnerability to climate change and its ability to adapt.
The human cost is plain to see at a camp for internally displaced people just outside Mazar-i-Sharif, where rows of white UN tents house hundreds of families and the main source of water is from a large communal tank.
Shamayel, a 35-year-old mother from Faryab province in the northwest, said her family came to the camp to escape conflict and the drought.
She used to weave colorful traditional kilim rugs, but increasing wool prices made it impossible.
Seven kilograms of wool previously cost about $19, she said, but the price rose to $31 in the past year or two.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, rising wool costs haven't caused a price jump for Afghan rugs and carpets.
Traders in Mazar complained the ongoing uncertainty and anxiety around delayed election results and talks between the Taliban and the US have essentially frozen the market.
Another former weaver at the camp, Ghulam Sakhi, 50, said he too had been forced to give up his trade when he arrived.
"I want to weave, I miss it," he said, smiling as he described his craft. "Now I feel useless."
Dailymail
Ansari

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged a "significant" reduction in violence by Taliban in Afghanistan to allow peace talks to move forward. 
The U.S. leader spoke at a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos, the White House said in a statement.
"President Trump reiterated the need for a significant and lasting reduction in violence by the Taliban that would facilitate meaningful negotiations on Afghanistan’s future," said the statement.
The Taliban, last week, after consultations in Pakistan, proposed a temporary cease-fire to pave the way for the signing of a deal with the U.S., a move disregarded by the Ghani-led Afghan government as “ambiguous” as it does not clearly call for a comprehensive cease-fire.
The offered brief period of reducing violence in the war-weary country has been seen as an important step to conclude a preliminary deal between Taliban and Washington.
A source privy to developments told Anadolu Agency the Taliban is reluctant to give-up their main leverage -- violence -- in talks and are only inclined towards “reduction in violence” with little or no explanation of what would this amount to.
After a marathon round of negotiations with the Taliban, Trump cancelled a proposed peace deal in September with the insurgents in the final moments for the killing of a U.S. soldier in Kabul.
Anadolu Agency
Ansari

Friday January 24, 2020
Kabul (BNA) New Zealand knocked Sri Lanka out of the U-19 World Cup with a three-wicket win while Afghanistan joined them in the quarterfinals following a 160-run victory over United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.
Chasing 243, New Zealand needed six runs off the final two balls and number nine Kristian Clarke pulled off a memorable win with a six over deep midwicket, sending his team to the quarterfinals. Sri Lanka had posted 242 for nine.
Afghanistan too advanced to the next stage with their second win in as many games. They were too good for the UAE, bowling them out for 105 after scoring 265 for six. Ibrahim Zadran (87) top-scored with the bat while leggie Shafiqullah Ghafari picked up a five-wicket haul.
Pakistan were stretched by Zimbabwe but they managed to eke out a 38-run win in Potchefstroom. Mohammad Haris (81) top-scored as Pakistan put up 294 for nine. Zimbabwe fought hard courtesy Milton Shumba (58) and Wesley Madhevere (53) but faltered towards the end to be 256 all out.
Indianexpress
Ansari

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Lashkargah (BNA)  NSA Media Official was assassinated by unknown gunmen in Helmand yesterday evening.
Mohammad Daud Maslomyar NSA Media Official for Helmand was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Lashkargah city.
Omar Zwak spokesman for Helmand governor told BNA, attempts to identify and arrest the perpetrators of the assassination continue.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Helmand NSA media official so far.
T. Yarzada

 

Thursday, 23 January 2020 07:14

Fleeing War Families Received Cash Aid

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Jalalabad (BNA) Dozens fleeing war families received cash assistance in Nangarhar .
These families have been displaced due to presence of terror groups from their homes to Ache District bazaar.
Media office of Nangarhar told BNA, in this round cash assistance distributed to 62 fleeing war families.
18,000 Afghanis have been helped for each family.
The money was made by aid agencies and distributed to fleeing war families yesterday by labor and social affairs department.
Local officials say, Achen District now cleared from ISIS fighter, and runway families can return to their homes.
T. Yarzada

 

Thursday, 23 January 2020 07:14

Assaulter Arrested in Helmand

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Lashkargah (BNA)  A mine planter has been detained by police forces in Helmand yesterday.
The man associated to Taliban terrorist group was arrested with a magnetic mine from Lashkargah city.
Police Media’s office with releasing a statement told BNA, the assaulter wanted to plant a mine in one of crowded ways of the city, but not succeeded to their evil goal.
The man confessed to membership of Taliban and joins dozens of terror attacks in Helmand.
T. Yarzsada

 

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