Afghanistan in March 2021; Key News

Peace and Politics

On 19th March, a conference on the Afghanistan peace process was held in Moscow at which Russia, the United States, China, and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the Afghan sides to reach a peace deal. Habiba Sarabi, an activist and politician, was the only female delegate on the 12-member team representing the Afghan government and political leaders in Moscow. In response, the chair of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission said it was unacceptable that only one woman attended the meeting. She saw this as ‘a worrying sign for the future’: “It’s setting the tone for things to come in terms of inclusivity,” she said.[1] The conference was part of a larger effort by regional powers to make peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban, as the 1 May deadline for the withdrawal of the US and other foreign troops looms, and negotiations between the government and Taliban in Doha have been stalled.

Turkey will host a senior-level intra-Afghan meeting in the coming weeks. The Istanbul peace talks are being planned amid a worrying escalation in violence in Afghanistan as journalists, civil society members and health workers have increasingly been the focus of targeted killings.

Security

Figures from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan suggest 3,035 civilians were killed and 5,785 injured in attacks in 2020, with a significant rise in assassinations since direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban began in September.

On 30th March, three women vaccinators were killed in two different incidents by unknown gunmen in the 4th and 7th police districts of Jalalabad city, the provincial capital. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

On 28 March, At least 17 civilians from three families were killed in Saberi District during a military operation by Khost Protection Forces — C.I.A.-backed special forces — targeting the Taliban. Local officials have denied that any civilians were killed. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation.

Humanitarian and Development

As of 25th March, Ministry of Public Health data shows that 56,226 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are confirmed to have had COVID-19. Some 49,802 people have recovered, and 2,467 people have died – at least 91 of whom are healthcare workers. On 8th March, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations consisting of 468,000 doses arrived.

The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 have translated into a dramatic deterioration in food insecurity with levels now like those seen during the 2018 drought. An estimated 16.9 million people are now in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. [2]

People & Culture

Muqtader Omari, an Afghan national got the chance to study at Harvard University after seven years. He received the scholarship that no Afghan had been able to achievt in the last seven years. Omari, 18 years old, completed his primary education in the Afghan Turk high school in Kabul.

About 60,000 students had applied for the scholarship this year, and he explained 'I was fortunate to achieve second place in all the people who took part in the exam. I was selected to study in the political science and astrology faculty at Harvard University,' he said. [3]

This report is developed based on media reports. Although BAAG has taken necessary precautions to include only credible sources, it does not take responsibility for incorrect content.

 


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/18/afghan-activists-warn-over-absence-of-women-in-peace-process

[2] https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/afghanistan-strategic-situation-report-covid-19-no-93-25-march-2021

[3] https://menafn.com/1101855764/Afghanistan-Afghan-student-granted-scholarship-to-Harvard-University#:~:text=KABUL%3A%20Muqtader%20Omari%2C%20an%20Afghan,in%20the%20last%20seven%20years.&text=Harvard%20university%20got%20first%20ranking,private%20universities%20of%20the%20world.

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