Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

Afghan children fill canisters with water from a water pump outside their temporary homes on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Files/AFP
Updated 27 May 2018
0

Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

  • Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought
  • More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces

KABUL: Rain and snow are as important as peace for Afghanistan. But the landlocked and mountainous country this year had its lowest rainfall for years, causing widespread drought and leaving 2 million people facing food shortages.
Livestock in many areas have died, and some farmers have been forced to send their herds for pasture to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Thousands of people have left their homes already due to water shortages, with fears that the situation will worsen in autumn, Afghan and UN officials say.
Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces, including the northern region — Afghanistan’s food basket — have been badly affected, they said.
The aid-reliant Afghan government has begun delivering aid to affected areas. But assistance will be needed for months to come. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rapid action was needed to enable delivery of food and water. More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces, it said.
“Drought is gripping large parts of Afghanistan, with more than 2 million people expected to become severely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance for survival,” OCHA said.
“A quick, comprehensive response will enable the delivery of food and water to the rural villages and help to avoid the migration of families to cities where they risk losing all of their few possessions, and where they lack shelter and access to health facilities and schools for their children,” it said.
Water points and fountains across the country have dried up, and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dry up, the organization said.
About 1.5 million goats and sheep in northeast regions are struggling to find food and more than half of the 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from lack of water.
Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought, limiting communities’ access to markets.
In Helmand, village elders reportedly need to obtain special approval from the armed groups to access markets in areas under government control.
In Uruzgan province, people often cannot access the main market in Tirinkot due to fighting and insecurity on the roads to the provincial capital. Following a temporary closure of the road to neighboring Kandahar province in April due to fighting, wheat prices went up by 50 percent in the city, and the price for fresh produce quadrupled within days.
Engineer Mohammed Sediq Hassani, chief of planning in the government’s Disaster Management Department, said the drought has directly and indirectly taken the lives of dozens of people.

“The impact of drought in terms of taking lives is intangible and slow. An indirect impact can be the recent floods, which claimed the lives of 73 people. Floods happen when there is a drought because of the change of the climate,” he told Arab News.


Australian senator condemned for advocating white-only immigration policy

Updated 16 August 2018
0

Australian senator condemned for advocating white-only immigration policy

  • Fraser Anning called for a complete ban on Muslim immigration and linked Muslim communities to terrorism and being on welfare programs
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten gave passionate Parliament speeches opposing Anning’s comments

CANBERRA, Australia: An Australian senator is being condemned for his speech in Parliament advocating reviving a white-only immigration policy and using the term “final solution” in calling for a vote on which migrants to admit into the country.
Fraser Anning has refused to apologize for the content of his first upper house speech. But politicians across the spectrum were united in denouncing his words. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten gave passionate Parliament speeches Wednesday opposing Anning’s comments.
Anning also called for a complete ban on Muslim immigration and linked Muslim communities to terrorism and being on welfare programs. Turnbull said in his own speech, “Those who try to demonize Muslims because of the crimes of a tiny minority are only helping the terrorists.”
A member of the minor Katter’s Australian Party, Anning was unapologetic about using the same phrase Nazi leaders used in planning the Holocaust during World War II.
“The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote,” Anning said in his Senate speech.
He claimed to be simply referring to the “ultimate solution” to a political problem and said people who were offended took the two words out of context.
Shorten said those two words evoke trauma and come from history’s darkest moments. “Two words would speak for the brutalization and murder of millions. Two words that evoke fear and grief and trauma and loss,” Shorten said.
He said most Australians did not want to see the country go back to 1958 and moved a unanimous motion praising the dismantling of discriminatory immigration policies over several decades.