Tuesday, 27, September, 2022

World

The World Health Organization is monitoring a new variant with numerous mutations to the spike protein, scheduling a special meeting Friday to discuss what it may mean for vaccines and treatments, officials said Thursday.

British experts have sounded the alarm over a new Covid variant believed to have emerged in Botswana that is the most mutated version of the virus yet, the Daily Mail said.

Remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to have grown a strong 7.3 percent to reach $589 billion in 2021. This return to growth is more robust than earlier estimates and follows the resilience of flows in 2020 when remittances declined by only 1.7 percent despite a severe global recession due to COVID-19, according to estimates from the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released today.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed Uzbekistan and Afghanistan's other neighbors. He said that Russia calls on the neighboring countries of Afghanistan to prevent the military presence of the U.S. and NATO forces on their territory. This was announced on October 27 by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a video message to the participants in the ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan (Iran, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).

The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs, Colin Cole expressed confidence that the U.S. military will be able to strike at terrorists in Afghanistan without the U.S. presence in the country.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) within three days - October 15-17 - delivered to Termez more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, the UNHCR press service said.

The Russian leader Vladimir Putin said that terrorist groups in Afghanistan pose a serious threat to the neighboring countries. “The situation in Afghanistan is complicated. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the transition of power to the Taliban happened, who are now establishing their own order, their own rules,” Putin said at a meeting with the chiefs of the secret services of the CIS countries.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, during a meeting in Brussels with the Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, highlighted that the European Union was interested in enhancing ties in the Central Asian region.

With such significant events as the G20 Environment, Climate and Energy Ministerial Meeting, the first ever UN High-level Dialogue on Energy and the two-years-long awaited UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom next month, 2021 has been dubbed as a year that will ‘make it or break it’ on climate action.

Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the eleventh annual Central Asia Trade Forum, an international event promoting regional trade and connectivity across Central Asia and beyond focused on post-COVID recovery and resilience in the region. This five-day virtual event includes over distinguished speakers from around the world including Central Asia and the United States and 3,500 participants representing 42 countries.

The World Bank’s updated Groundswell report released today finds that climate change, an increasingly potent driver of migration, could force 216 million people across six world regions to move within their countries by 2050.

The Taliban said that the discussions held on forming a new government have been finalized and they will soon make an announcement.

Negotiations began on Monday to approve a UN physical science report, which will anchor high level summits later this year, charged with boosting climate action worldwide.

The delegation of the political office of the Taliban movement, during consultations in Moscow on July 8, gave assurances that they would not breach the borders of the Central Asian countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Biden administration asked three Central Asian nations to temporarily house thousands of Afghans who worked with American forces and could be targeted by the Taliban as U.S. and NATO troops withdraw after nearly two decades.


The U.S. has asked Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to take in about 9,000 Afghans who assisted with the American military’s invasion and occupation of the country, according to three people familiar with the request, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

That effort comes as U.S. forces handed over Bagram Air Base, their biggest facility, late Thursday night in a milestone symbolizing the effective departure of combat forces from Afghanistan after 20 years. The U.S. had said it would have most troops out by Sept. 11, keeping a contingent of about 650 in the country to protect diplomats, but Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Friday said the withdrawal could be completed by the end of August.

“All Coalition and American troops departed Bagram Air Base last night,” Fawad Aman, a deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s defense ministry, said. “The base was handed over. ANDSF will protect the base and use it to combat terrorism,” he added, using an acronym for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

But the handover raises the potential threats facing the many Afghan translators, drivers and other workers and their families who helped sustain the American presence after the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban government following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Biden administration pledged to expedite immigration visas for Afghans who worked closely with U.S. forces, but that process is still in flux.

“All the visa seekers are surprised by this news and we are hoping they shift us swiftly as the security is really worsening and those countries are much safer than Afghanistan,” Amin Rahimi, an Afghan employee of a U.S. government-funded project, said by phone on Friday.

Having gained strength for years despite the American and NATO presence, Taliban forces now control half of the country’s 400 districts.

A crucial way for the U.S. to aid key Afghan allies would be through the Special Immigrant Visa program, which allows those who have worked for American forces to claim refugee status. Officials have said there are some 18,000 Afghan SIV applicants, with 9,000 or so just starting the process.

State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to say at a briefing Thursday where the applicants might go. He said they and their families “will have the option to be relocated to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September” to complete the immigration process.

‘Every Option’

“Importantly, these are individuals who are already in the SIV pipeline,” Price said. “We would undertake any relocation in full compliance with applicable laws and in full coordination with Congress.”

Pentagon spokesman Kirby on Friday said the U.S. was in talks with “neighboring nations” to Afghanistan about potentially relocating people who had aided American troops.

Some officials had suggested the idea of sending those Afghans to the U.S. island of Guam in the Pacific, and the island’s governor even tweeted that he was in favor of the idea. But that was never seriously considered given officials’ fear that if the visa applicants went to Guam, it would be impossible to force them to leave if their SIV applications were denied.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin at the State Department on Thursday. Blinken thanked Kamilov “for Uzbekistan’s continued support for a just and durable peace settlement in Afghanistan,” the department said in a statement.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June, Blinken said a backlog of immigration applications is being cleared, and he asked Congress to raise a cap on special immigrant visas for Afghans by 8,000 slots. There’s now a congressionally mandated cap of 26,000 slots under the Special Immigrant Visa program.

The agreement being sought to temporarily base thousands of Afghans in three Central Asian nations would be part of a broader deal to establish further cooperation with those countries. As part of the visit by the Uzbek and Tajik foreign ministers in Washington this week, the U.S. is proposing an accord that would allow it to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations from their territory, one of the people familiar with the request said.

With health systems at a breaking point, hospitals at capacity and desperate family members searching for oxygen for loved ones, the devastating second wave of COVID-19 that has swept across South Asia has felt ­surreal. Official figures have indicated record-breaking daily coronavirus cases and deaths, not only in South Asia, but across the entire Asia-Pacific region during the latest surge. As devastating as it has been, the truth is we may never know how many people have died during the pandemic. 

The destiny of the world rests in innovative utilisation of hydrocarbons whilst embracing the rise of renewables in the global energy mix, Secretary General of the largest consortium of gas exporting nations, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), said at the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The Taliban, in the light of media reports on US plans to establish US military bases in the region, urged the countries bordering Afghanistan not to host foreign bases. This is stated in the statement sent by Taliban to the RIA Novosti.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the coronavirus variant first found in India last year as a "variant of global concern".

The representatives of Uzbekistan, the United States, the European Union, Russia, NATO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and 18 other countries have been invited to attend a conference on Afghanistan in Istanbul. The conference, organized by the UN, Turkey and Qatar, will be held in Istanbul from April 24 to May 4.