Afghanistan Situation: Working To – Latest news headlines


Doing All To Evacuate Indians In Afghanistan: Centre At All-Party Meet

Afghan Crisis: Control over Kabul airport has been split between occupying Taliban forces and US troops.

The government has told 31 opposition parties that the immediate priority is the evacuation of all Indians stranded in Afghanistan, sources said on Thursday afternoon. This was after an all-party meet called by Prime Minister Modi to brief the opposition on the “critical” Afghanistan situation.

Around 15,000 people have contacted the government seeking assistance in fleeing from Afghanistan, sources said, adding that Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had also briefed the opposition about evacuation steps being taken by other nations, such as the United States, Russia and China.

India is trying to evacuate as many people as possible from Afghanistan, Mr Jaishankar was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. He underlined that evacuating Indians is the “top priority”.

“We have undertaken evacuation operations in extremely difficult conditions, especially at the airport. Our immediate concern and task is evacuation, and the long-term interest is the friendship for the Afghan people,” Mr Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

Sources also said the government had told opposition leaders the Taliban broke promises made to the United States and its allies in Doha in the weeks up to its occupation of Kabul.

Last week – before the Taliban took control of Kabul – news agency Reuters said the Islamist group had agreed to a two-week cease-fire in exchange for President Ashraf Ghani’s resignation and the start of talks on setting up a transitional government.

Apart from Mr Jaishankar, the meeting was attended by Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.

Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge (Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha) and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (party chief in the Lok Sabha) were among the opposition leaders present, as were NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the DMK’s TR Baalu, and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.

India, which has been allowed to operate two flights per day from Kabul, has evacuated over 300 of its citizens so far. A similar number of citizens from other nations have also been brought back.

However, evacuations have been slowed by the volatile security situation in and around the airport in Kabul, control of which is split between occupying Taliban forces and the United States.

The Foreign Ministry has said the government is committed to their safe return, adding that the main challenge is the operational status of the airport. Evacuations have also been affected by the fact that some Indians had not registered on arrival in Kabul, making it difficult to locate them.

The last batch of evacuation flights from Kabul landed in India on Sunday – a special Air Force plane carrying around 168 people, including 107 Indian citizens, was among those flights.

The evacuees also included some Indian Sikhs who had taken refugee at a gurudwara in Kabul.

An Afghan woman who was on the Air Force flight told ANI the situation in her country was “deteriorating”, and that the Taliban had burned down her house.

Indians were also flown in on three other flights – operated by Air India, IndiGo and Vistara. These flights were routed via Tajikistan and Qatar, due to safety concerns over some flight paths.

On August 17, the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security to monitor the safe evacuation of Indians stranded in Afghanistan.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan 10 days ago, after President Ashraf Ghani fled and the group walked into Kabul with no opposition. This was after a staggeringly fast rout of major cities, and following two decades of war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Since then at least 20 people have died at Kabul airport as thousands rush to flee the country, according to a report by Reuters that quoted an unnamed NATO official.

With input from PTI, Reuters


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Telangana: Meet over phased easing of lockdown soon, say | Sidnaz Blog


HYDERABAD: Senior government officials said instructions were issued by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to police to enforce the lockdown strictly with an intention to end it on May 30 and relax the restrictions in a phased manner.
Officials said KCR is likely to hold a review meeting on Covid-19 on May 28 or 29. From May 31 or June 1, the government may slowly relax the restrictions from four hours to six hours and impose only night curfew later. Some states like AP are implementing the lockdown between 12 noon to 6 am.
Health department officials said the number of cases per day in the state has fallen for the past one week and on Saturday, only 3,300 cases were reported. “The curve cannot be flattened immediately, but the number of cases can be brought down to below 1,000 within a week. If people start moving on roads, the situation may come back to square one. The government does not want such a scenario,” a senior official of CMO said.
Sources in the government recall that the CM was reluctant to impose lockdown in the state as it would directly impact the livelihood of several sectors and lakhs of workers apart from hitting the state’s revenues. The 20-hour lockdown is being implemented to break the chain and reduce the number of coronavirus infection cases.
“The government is prepared to lose revenue in view of the pandemic situation. People’s health gains credence over the state revenues,” a senior government official said and recalled that even the CM said the same during a review meeting with district collectors and SPs on Friday. “However, the government cannot go on extending the lockdown for several weeks, which may further worsen the situation. A situation may arise when the government will not be in a position to even pay salaries to the employees,” a CMO official said. The Telangana government clamped the lockdown on May 12 for 10 days and later extended till May 30. Only four hours — between 6 am and10 am — is given to people to purchase groceries and vegetables.
KCR expressed unhappiness over the implementation of lockdown in the state at Friday’s meeting and asked the police to crack the whip on violators of lockdown guidelines.


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Latest News Today – India’s COVID-19 Situation Hugely Concerning, Says WHO


India's Covid Situation Hugely Concerning, Says WHO Chief

WHO Chief pointed out that the emergency-like situation was not restricted to India. (File)

United Nations:

India’s COVID-19 situation remains hugely concerning, with several states continuing to see a worrying number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday, warning that the pandemic’s second year will be “far more deadly” than the first for the world.

Ghebreyesus added that the WHO is responding to the COVID-19 surge in India and has shipped thousands of oxygen concentrators, tents for mobile field hospitals, masks and other medical supplies.
“India remains hugely concerning, with several states continuing to see a worrying number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths,” he said at the daily media briefing.

“And we thank all the stakeholders who are supporting India,” the WHO Director-General said.

India is in the midst of a deadly wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with 3,43,144 people testing positive for the virus on Friday, taking the country’s caseload to 2,40,46,809. The death count stands at 2,62,317.

India’s COVID-19 tally crossed the 10 million mark on December 19 and in under six months it has doubled, surpassing the grim milestone of 20 million cases on May 4.

Ghebreyesus pointed out that the emergency-like situation was not restricted to India.

“Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalisations,” he said adding that some countries in the Americas still have high numbers of cases and as a region, the Americas accounted for 40 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths last week.

There are also spikes in some countries in Africa. “These countries are in heightened response mode and WHO will continue to provide support in all ways possible,” he said.

Noting that COVID-19 has already cost more than 3.3 million lives across the world, Ghebreyesus said, “We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first.”

He lamented that vaccine supply remains a key challenge and that saving lives and livelihoods with a combination of public health measures and vaccination – not one or the other – is the only way out of the pandemic.

Save A Life. Help Fight The Coronavirus Outbreak In India


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Meeting At PM’s Office Over Covid Situation Amid Surge | Sidnaz Blog


Meeting At PM's Office Over Covid Situation Amid Surge In Cases

New Delhi:

A meeting is underway at the Prime Minister’s Office to review the coronavirus situation in the country amid a surge in cases over the past few days, and amid concern that mutated versions of the virus – including those that may be more infectious – may be circulating in the country.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan is among those attending this meeting.

The spike in Covid numbers in some states comes as 240 new strains of the virus have emerged across the country; Dr Shahshank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra’s Covid Task Force, told NDTV this week that the new strains could be the reason for an increase in cases in that state.

Health Ministry sources have said that 800 to 900 samples from Maharashtra and Kerala – two of five states to have seen a surge in cases – had been sent for genome sequencing in the past month.

Samples for genome sequencing – to understand the complete genetics of the virus – have also been sought from Punjab (another state to see an increase in cases) and Bengaluru, where two apartment complexes have been declared “containment zones” and sealed in the past few days.

So far genome sequencing of nearly 6,000 samples have been completed.


While authorities are still not sure how many of these new cases (if any, at all) are from the new mutated strains of the virus, government officials have admitted India’s genome sequencing has been below the mark so far, and that this needs to change in the coming weeks.

India has, so far, reported fewer than 200 cases of the UK strain of the virus. The South African strain has been detected in four people and the Brazil variant in one.

There are around 1.47 lakh active coronavirus cases in the country, according to government data released this morning. The total number of cases reported since the pandemic began in China in December 2019 is now over 1.10 crore, with 1.56 lakh deaths linked to the virus.

Maharashtra and Kerala continue to be the worst-affected states and among a handful seeing a surge in new cases that has worried the centre. Maharashtra has reported over 5,200 new cases in 24 hours, while Kerala has detected over 2,200.


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Situation Tense At Ghazipur Border, Protests Swell | Sidnaz Blog


Farmer Protest Latest News Live Updates: Situation Tense At Delhi-UP Border, Protests Swell

The administration has cut off power and water supply to the hundreds of farmers at Delhi-UP border.

New Delhi:

Farmer protests: A standoff built up through Thursday evening between police and farmers at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur after the UP government orderd farmers camping there to be removed and the farmers refusing to budge. leader Rakesh Tikait declaring that he is “ready to face bullets” if needed. The other two key borders — Tikri and the epicenter of farmers’ protests, Singhu — have also been placed under heavy security. The police have dug up roads, using JCB machines.

The administration has cut off power and water supply to the hundreds of farmers, who have been camping out on the roads. The Ghazipur border had been sealed since the farmers started their “Delhi Chalo” protest on November 26.  On Tuesday, the farmers had broken barricades and taken out their tractor rally.

Coronavirus updates: The coronavirus-induced suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till February 28, aviation regulator DGCA said on Thursday. “The restrictions shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA,” the aviation regulator said in a circular.

The centre had allowed domestic flight operations last year.

Meanwhile, US biotech firm Novavax said on Thursday its two-shot Coronavirus vaccine showed an overall efficacy of 89.3 percent in a major Phase 3 clinical trial in Britain, and remained highly effective against a variant first identified there.

But the positive news was partly offset by other results that showed it offered significantly less protection against a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa, which is spreading rapidly around the world.

Here are the live updates:

Farmer protests: Situation tense at Delhi-UP border, Agitating farmers raise slogans

Agitating farmers raise slogans ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ at Ghazipur border (Delhi-Uttar Pradesh); visuals from early morning.

Uttar Pradesh Police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) deployed left the protest site late last night.

1,000 Cops At Delhi-UP Border As Confrontation With Farmers Grows

Huge security arrangements were made at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur on Thursday evening as farmers protesting against the Centre’s contentious farm laws remained locked in a face-off with the police. Uttar Pradesh decided to take action two days after the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally. The local administration had asked the farmers to end their protest and vacate the road by Thursday night. (Read full story here)
PM Modi Speaks To Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Discusses Impact Of Pandemic

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on the telephone with Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Thursday and discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

The PMO said in a release that the two leaders discussed the impact of the COVID pandemic in the region, and expressed satisfaction that cooperation between India and UAE had not halted even during the health crisis, ANI reported.

Belgium inspects vaccine plant at EU request

Belgian health officials inspected a plant producing AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine Thursday, amid a dispute with the European Commission over delayed deliveries.

A spokeswoman for Belgium’s Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AFMHPS) said the visit to the site in Seneffe took place at the request of the European Commission.

“We are now examining documents and data,” Ann Eeckhout told AFP.

Mexico president continues Covid recovery, minister says

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador continues to recover from the coronavirus and has only mild symptoms, his interior minister said Thursday.

The 67-year-old is “very well” and performing his duties from the National Palace, said Olga Sanchez, who is standing in for Lopez Obrador at his daily news conference.

“As soon as the specialists give their approval, he will be back,” she added. The health ministry reported on Wednesday that the president had experienced brief episodes of low-grade fever and a slight headache, but was making good progress, AFP reported.


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