Russian FSB Chief Warns Of IS Threat From Afghanistan
The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says that militants from the extremist group Islamic State (IS) have been amassing in northern Afghanistan, near its borders with former Soviet republics in Central Asia. FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov spoke on May 21 during a visit to Tajikistan, which shares a long border with Afghanistan. Moscow has been expressing concern about an IS spillover into Central Asia for years now. Bortnikov said he was concerned about what he called the “redeployment” of around 5,000 IS fighters “to the northern provinces of Afghanistan.” Bortnikov called for tighter border control to prevent a spillover (RFE/RL).
The Russian has been concerned about nestling of IS in Afghanistan and it sees it as a possible threat to security and stability of its borders in medium term. Analysts have seen the Russian incline towards Taliban during 2017 and 2018 as a proactive measure to counter IS threat within the Afghan boundaries. The Afghan Government will have to engage with the Russians in order to create a sense of collaboration and coordination with Moscow to ensure that Russia avoids engagement with non-state actors and work closely with Kabul.
Afghan watchdog voices concerns over rising civilian casualties
The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) expressed concerns over a rise in civilian casualties in anti-Taliban operations since the start of Ramadan (6 May). The group’s press-release did not provide its estimate of how many civilians had been killed and wounded; it did refer to a recent incident in Helmand province’s Greshk district, wherein 13 civilians died in air strikes on two villages on 19 May. The CPAG also noted the death of civilians in recent operations in the western Herat province and reiterated a call to the government and the Taliban to declare a ceasefire during Ramadan. So far, despite repeated calls for a ceasefire, the Taliban have refused to do so – instead of arguing that Ramadan is an “appropriate” opportunity for “jihad”.
The upsurge in recent operations held by the Afghan Government have been cause of serious concern due to spike in the civilian casualties. In the meantime, lack of Government response to public concerns have also created a negative vibe among general public.
Two million children with acute malnutrition in Afghanistan
UNICEF- Afghanistan says an estimated 2 million Afghan children under the age of five and 485,000 pregnant and lactating women are affected by acute malnutrition in 2018. The situation of 29% of affected children are called ’’Severe’’. In their annual report, the UNICEF found that 22 out of 34 provinces are currently above the emergency level threshold of acute malnutrition based on WHO classification of wasting rates for children under the age of five. Reasons for the situation are disclosed as ongoing conflict, low access to basic services, and the impact of natural disasters.
A million children orphans in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled says around one million children in Afghanistan are orphans, and they only cover about 10,000 in government and non-government orphanages.