• Afghanistan in March 2022 - Key News

Afghanistan in March 2022 - Key News

07 April 2022

Politics

The third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan was held in Tunxi, Anhui Province in China on 31 March 2022. Foreign Ministers or senior representatives of seven countries, namely China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, attended the meeting. "As neighbouring countries to Afghanistan, we have witnessed tragedies and disasters caused by years of war and chaos to the Afghan people, and we have also experienced troubles brought about by the long-term chaos in Afghanistan. No country is more hopeful about the early realization of peace, stability, development and prosperity in Afghanistan than us," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said. The meeting was also addressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and sent a congratulatory message to the meeting. The meeting issued a declaration which could be read here. A week before the summit, Chinese foreign minister Wang also paid a surprise visit to Kabul where he held talks with foreign minister Muttaqi and deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. It was the highest-level visit by a Chinese official since the Taliban took power last year and a day after many in the global community were angered by the group's closure of girls' high schools.

UN votes secured the extension of the UN mission in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution at a time as the Taliban government remains unrecognised by the international community. The mandate further states that the Mission will focus on several key activities, including coordinating the provision of humanitarian assistance and the delivery of basic human needs; providing outreach and good offices for dialogue between Afghan stakeholders and the international community; and promoting good governance and the rule of law.

The Taliban ordered girls' secondary schools in Afghanistan to close on Wednesday 23 March hours after they reopened. The move has sparked confusion and heartbreak over the policy reversal by the hard line Islamist group. Human rights activists, global leaders and governments have strongly protested the decision of banning girls from schools and have urged the Taliban to re-consider their decision. Protesting the decision of Taliban, the World Bank has also put four projects in Afghanistan worth $600 million on hold amid concerns over a decision. On the day of the pledging conference on March the 31st more restrictions on women were announced by the de facto authorities; that they should not work in offices or leave the home

According to media reports five Chinese companies have obtained special visas and arrived in Afghanistan last year in November to conduct on-site inspections of potential lithium projects. Afghanistan possesses a vast amount of intact mines and natural resources, including lithium reserves, as well as other valuable resources. Media reports suggest that China is eyeing nearly USD 1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country. Esmatullah Burhan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, said that the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has assessed the agreement on Mes Aynak copper project and has found no problems, Ariana News reported.

 

Security

According to local media reports a bomb blasted in Kandahar city, the capital of southern Kandahar province, which resulted in the injury of three children. Similarly, a in another security incident in Nangarhar which is the south eastern province of Afghanistan a bomb explosion injured two people. The bomb exploded in the Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province. 

According to a report at least children killed in rocket explosion in Kandahar province. provincial security officials stated that the incident which took the lives of four children took place in the Shahwalikot district of Kandahar province. The district police headquarter reported that the unexploded rocket detonated after the kids played with it. Meanwhile, another rocket attack that landed in the Garda Serai district of Paktia province killed two and wounded several others. 

According to a report published by the United Nations Nearly 400 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The report is considered to be the first major human rights report since the Taliban seized power from the former US-backed government in August, triggering concerns in the West about a broader rollback of rights for women, journalists and others. It covers the period from August 2021 to the end of February and said that 397 civilians were killed mostly in a series of attacks by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) group.

 

Humanitarian

The United Kingdom co-hosted the high level Afghanistan Pledging Conference 2022 to help the Afghan people that are exposed to the worst humanitarian crises after the fall of the republic last year in August. The conference was supposed to garner $4.4bn however, it fell short of its target to help Afghanistan. According to media reports world’s donor drought, and growing global divisions over Afghanistan’s political direction, have been laid bare when a UN appeal for $4.4bn (£3.35bn) to help Afghanistan fell massively short, the second UN donor conference in a month to do so. Donor countries pledged only $2.44bn towards the appeal, a senior UN official said on Thursday after the conference.

 

People, Media and culture

The Taliban have ordered airlines in Afghanistan to avoid women from boarding flights unless accompanied by a male relative.The move comes after the Taliban backtracked on their previous commitment to open high schools to girls, a u-turn that shocked many Afghans and drew condemnation from humanitarian agencies and foreign governments. In a similar movelast year the Taliban have issued a directive that Afghan women that are seeking to travel long distances by road should be offered transport only if accompanied by a male relative.

The Taliban announced a ban on BBC, DW and VOA programming rebroadcast by local television stations/partners in Pashto and Dari in Afghanistan. The ban is the latest in a series of restrictions the Islamist group has imposed on Afghan media to stifle freedom of expression since taking control of the country last August. The head of languages at BBC World Service also calledon the Taliban to immediately remove the ban on its news bulletins. "The BBC's TV news bulletins in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek have been taken off air in Afghanistan, after the Taliban ordered our TV partners to remove international broadcasters from their airwaves," Tarik Kafala confirmed in a statement Sunday.

Taliban barred government employees without beards from attending offices. In the latest attack on personal freedoms, enforcement agents for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice patrolled entrances to government offices yesterday to ensure civil servants abided by the new regulations, according to Reuters. They also instructed staff to pray at the correct times. The Taliban authorities quickly imposed their harsh restrictions on personal freedoms after taking power last year. In South and South Eastern Afghanistan Taliban’s local authorities instructed barbers to not shave beards.