21 February 2017

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Politics

Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Kabul (BNA) Civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2016 were the highest recorded by the United Nations, the world body said, with nearly 11,500 non-combatants one-third of them children killed or wounded.
Fighting between Afghan security forces and armed groups, especially in populated areas, remained "the leading cause of civilian casualties" more than two years after NATO's combat mission ended, said the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which began documenting civilian casualties in 2009.

A total of 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 were wounded in 2016, a combined increase of three percent over the previous year, according to the annual report for 2016.
"Against a backdrop of protracted ground fighting, the battlefield permeated civilian sanctuaries that should be spared from harm, with suicide attacks in mosques; targeted attacks against district centres, bazaars and residential homes; and the use of schools and hospitals for military purposes," the UN said.
Danielle Bell, the director of UNAMA's human rights unit, called on the parties to the conflict to take stronger measures to mitigate harm on the battlefield.
"They should start making promises and ensure the commitments they made are translated into reality on the battlefield. This is the only thing that has to happen to prevent civilian causalities," she told Al Jazeera.
About 61 percent of all civilian casualties were caused by armed groups like the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
The UN attributed at least 4,953 deaths and injuries to the Taliban, but in a shift for 2016, investigators documented a 10-fold increase in casualties caused by ISIL, which often targets members of the Shia Muslim minority.
At least 899 deaths and injuries were attributed to ISIL, which has previously been a relatively minor faction in Afghanistan, but last year launched an increasing number of suicide attacks.
Last year saw the highest number of civilian casualties from suicide attacks since the UN began tracking the numbers.
Afghan security forces caused about 20 percent of the overall casualties, while pro-government fighters and international forces caused two percent each.
Air raids by international warplanes resulted in at least 127 civilians’ deaths and 108 injuries in 2016, while the Afghan air forces accounted for at least 85 deaths and 167 injuries.
US officials have only acknowledged possible civilian casualties in one incident in Kunduz province in November, when the UN said as many as 32 non-combatants were killed and 26 wounded in a joint US-Afghan raid.
Casualties among children spiked by 24 percent in 2016, with 923 dead and 2,589 wounded, largely as a result of a major increase in casualties from unexploded ordnance.
 

Tuesday February 7, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Monday said 107 people had been killed due to the heavy snowfall while hundreds had been rescued and operation to reopen roads and highways was underway.
Addressing the Council of Ministers, Dr. Abdullah said the continued wet spell had harmed scores of countrymen. But be stopped short of giving an exact figures. He said 22 provinces had been hit by heavy snowfall. Most of the casualties happened in Nooristan and Badakhshan provinces, the CE added. Efforts to rescue the people trapped by avalanches were almost complete while the evacuation of the injured from Badakhshan and Nooristan was still ongoing. Dr. Abdullah said the Public Health Ministry was ready to meet the challenge.
The CE asked people to follow precautions from the authorities so they might not face trouble while traveling from one place to another. CE Abdullah also hailed the performance relevant organs, which worked in close coordination to rescue precious lives during the countrywide snowfall. Chief Executive addressing the council of ministers’ meeting also hinted to his visit from Helmand, adding the province’ security situation was reviewed and proper plans on hand to tackle insecurities. Following the ministers and representatives of the ministries and independent directorates presented their activities in line with Council of Ministers’ decision, with Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah instructing the ministries to further improve their routine works and submit report of their activities in upcoming meeting.
 

Tuesday February 7, 2017

Kabul (BNA) China’s special envoy to Afghanistan Deng Xijun on Sunday during separate meetings with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said his country, in case of need, would support resumption of the four-way talks to revive the stalled Afghan peace process.
During a meeting with president Ghani, Chinese envoy welcomed removal of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from UN sanctions list, adding in a contact with Taliban group, China has always emphasized on legitimacy of Afghan government and the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process as the only solution for ending the ongoing conflicts.
According to Chinese envoy, his country would attend any meeting to be on peace in Afghanistan, adding China attended the meeting in Moscow and hinted on Afghanistan’s concern, where the meeting decided to invite Afghan delegations in future meetings. Meanwhile, president Ghani praised Chinese support to Afghanistan, adding Afghans seek regional cooperation, and therefore, China’s cooperation in transit sector must be appreciated. According to presidential palace statement, the president went on saying Afghan government has always supported negotiations aiming to stop conflicts, adding much progress made during talks with HIA that showed Afghan governments capabilities in peace talks, hoping Taliban also understand and accept the peace in the country. The president also noted that Afghans being sacrificed in war on terror, were the attacks in Kabul, Helmand and Kandahar revealed the enmity against the common people of Afghanistan. Hinting to Moscow meeting on Afghanistan, president said such meetings’ agenda should be specified and Afghanistan should be invited as well.
According to another report, a statement from the Chief Executive Office said Dr. Abdullah Abdullah met Deng Xijun and both discussed bilateral relations, adding Xijun extended the Chinese Prime minister’s best wished to CE Abdullah and stressed expanded friendly ties between the two countries. Deng Xijun mentioned the People’s Republic of China constructive and effective role with regard to peace in Afghanistan. He said his country was ready to play more active role in ensuring peace in its neighboring country. He went on to say China in case of need would support the recommencement of peace talks and quadrilateral session on peace in Afghanistan. The statement added Dr. Abdullah while wishing Xijun a happy new Chinese Year asked him to convey his greetings to the Chinese Prime Minister. He called China one of Afghanistan’s friends and allies and wished further strengthening of the bilateral ties. Abdullah also praised China’s efforts at ensuring peace in Afghanistan. Dr. Abdullah hoped China would use its influence on Pakistan for the sake of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
 

Tuesday February 7, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Presided over by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, a session was held yesterday with participation of a number of deputy ministers at presidential palace.
In the session, deputy ministers of educations, water and energy, agriculture, mines and petroleum, labor and social affairs, rural rehabilitation and development, borders and tribal affairs, information and culture, public works and head of the country’s cricket board briefed about their relevant institutions’ plans and development programs in particular for Paktika province. Praising officials of the respective institutions for delivering report, the country’s president said 10 deprived provinces of the country were in government’s top working priorities and ministries should include the respective provinces in development programs.
President Ghani further said that a delegation should soon pay a visit to Paktika to closely review programs and needs of the people of this province, adding that plans of all ministries should be prepared in a chart for Paktika so that necessary measures would be adopted for execution. One of key priorities for deprived provinces in particular Paktika was to provide electricity and the ministry of water and energy should take necessary steps in this regard, President Ghani said. The President added that Paktika had numerous mines in particular gas and petroleum and instructed ministry of mines and petroleum to start searching on natural resources of the province.
 

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