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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UN Afghan envoy meets Taliban officials in Doha


The Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister and the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar thanked Qatar for its role throughout the Afghan peace process.

UN’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons discussed with a Taliban official in Doha the importance of having an inclusive government and swiftly responding to the country’s economic challenges, during a meeting in Doha on Wednesday.

Lyons met with the newly-appointed Afghan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai in Qatar before heading to Kabul.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [UNAMA] said Lyons and Stanekzai, along with international partners, also discussed “the rights of all Afghans especially women and girls” and their “shared commitment to the people of Afghanistan”.

The UNAMA said Lyons also met with the Afghan Minister of Interior Siraj Haqqani.

“UN envoy and the USG UN Safety+Security today met Siraj Haqqani, stressing absolute necessity for all UN & humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid & conduct work for Afghan people,” tweeted UNAMA.

The UNAMA added that Lyons and Haqqani discussed the importance of “mutual trust in collective efforts” in addressing the humanitarian situation in the country and “ensuring civil servants and health workers are paid”.

On Wednesday, a UN team arrived in Kabul onboard a Qatari plane, but it is unclear whether Lyons was on the same flight.

Meanwhile the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister and the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, thanked Qatar for its role throughout the Afghan peace process.

“What do we say to the beloved Qatar and its people? Thank you is not enough.. your generosity is overwhelming . May God protect your leadership and people,” tweeted Baradar.

The latest developments come as Qatari and Turkish teams continue to work on repairing Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport to ensure it is up and running for regular flights.

While flights have since resumed, there are still more issues that need to be addressed.

Speaking to the press with his Spanish counterpart earlier this week, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani that the Gulf state has yet to reach an agreement with the Taliban over operating the airport.

Acting head of the Kabul airport Mawlavi Abdul Hadi Hamadan told Anadolu Agency [AA] on Wednesday that the airport suffered damages that amount to millions of dollars, with the damage at the airport terminal costing $1 million alone.

“Radar system, as well as some aircraft and vehicles at the airport were also damaged. If a full damage assessment is done, it will be in millions of dollars,” he said.

Hamid added that more airplanes have started arriving to Kabul airport since it was repaired, including flights from Qatar, UAE, Pakistan and Bahrain – all of which brought humanitarian aid to the country.

“Efforts are continuing to start international flights and solve the problems of Afghan people and foreigners in the country,” said Hamid.

Qatar’s monetary assistance to Afghanistan to reach $50 million: official

Operations came to a halt at the facility following the 31 August deadline that saw all foreign troops exit from Afghanistan after a 20-year invasion.

Qatar has consistently stressed the importance to resume operations, pointing towards the need to restore freedom of mobility.

The Gulf state has also been calling on the international community to send aid to Afghanistan and engage with the Taliban, noting isolation is not an answer to the crisis.

Qatar’s recent financial contributions and assistance to support Afghanistan are expected to reach $50 million.

This does not include the 188 tonnes of food and medical aid shipped to Kabul last week alone, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi said at a virtual High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.

The UN recently said its stockpiles of food in Afghanistan could run out this month, warning of a hunger crisis that will exacerbate the many challenges facing the country.

UN humanitarian Chief in Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov said about one third of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million does not know whether they will have a meal every day.

This echoes previous concerns raised by the World Food Programme [WFP], which said at least $200 million is needed in order to feed people in Afghanistan, especially with winter approaching and amid an ongoing drought.

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