• Afghanistan in February 2021; Key News

Afghanistan in February 2021; Key News

10 March 2021

 Peace and politics

Nearly one year after the agreement that the US signed with the Taliban aiming for a reduction in violence and withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, violence has continued to escalate. The peace negotiations have largely been stalled in Doha, Qatar. The U.S. Army General Scott Miller, commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in an interview with Reuters said: “If the violence isn’t reduced, it’s going to make a peace process very, very difficult; it would be very difficult for any side to make the necessary compromises”. [1]In the meantime, the Afghan government appointed highly experienced military commanders for the security forces to prepare for a “tough and hard” spring offensive. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is reviewing its plans for Afghanistan, including the May 1st deadline for the troop withdrawal agreement. A member of the Taliban warned, “If they don’t leave Afghanistan on the present date then the USA, NATO, and the world will face a dangerous war, a war that never happened in the past 20 years”. 

Experts and diplomats see a vanishing window of opportunity for this turning point moment in the history of Afghanistan, although both sides say they are committed to negotiating. [2]

 

Security

According to the United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan, civilian casualties have risen after the beginning of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban since September last year. The targeted assassinations killed government workers and security force members, journalists, and civil society advocates. At least sixty-six civilians were killed in Afghanistan in February.[3] Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, called on all parties to take immediate actions to protect civilians. She said, “2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished due to the conflict”.[4]

 

Humanitarian and Development News

 

The Government of Japan announced it would grant US$ 122.2 million to support humanitarian and development programmes in Afghanistan. This decision will allow the implementation of 17 humanitarian and development assistance projects for the betterment of the livelihoods of Afghans. As part of Japan’s financial support, WHO will receive approximately US $660 000 to address urgent gaps in the provision of health services, especially the shortage of life-saving essential health services, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the upcoming disbursement of US$ 122.2 million, the cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 will amount to US$ 6.9 billion.[5]

 

People & Culture 

 

A routine 90-minute flight in Afghanistan just made history. On 26th February, Afghanistan just had its very first airline flight with an all-female crew, a milestone in a country where women often have very limited opportunities. The Kam Air's first female Afghan pilot, 22-year-old Mohadese Mirzaee, joined Captain Veronica Borysova in piloting the Boeing 737 from Kabul to Herat and four female cabin crew serviced passengers.[6] Mohades Mirzaee in an interview with NPR said “It's like, I cannot sit behind a desk. And I cannot work the same thing every day. So, I need something amazing. I need something different every day. I need something challenging.” [7]

 




[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-violence-springoffensive-idUSKBN2AH0SV 

[2] https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/afghan-peace-talks-under-threat-major-taliban-spring-offensive-takes-shape 

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/world/asia/afghan-war-casualty-report-february.html 

[4] https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1085442 

[5] https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/japan-provide-us-1222-million-humanitarian-and-development-assistance-afghanistan 

[6] https://www.businessinsider.com/onboard-afghanistan-first-flight-with-all-female-crew-kam-air-2021-2?r=US&IR=T#:~:text=Afghanistan's%20Kam%20Air%20says%20it,an%20International%20Women's%20Day%20documentary

[7] https://www.npr.org/2021/02/28/972217774/all-female-flight-crew-in-afghanistan-makes-history?t=1614907882136