Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

Taliban militants exploded a car in the area, which caused windows of nearby buildings to collapse. (AFP/File)
Updated 09 May 2019

Kabul aid groups reel after nine killed in Taliban attack

  • Three workers from an anti-poverty group died in the attack
  • Afghan forces and Taliban militia engaged in a fight that lasted hours

KABUL: Humanitarian groups were reeling Thursday from yet another attack targeting aid workers in Afghanistan, as officials confirmed nine people had been killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul a day earlier.
Wednesday’s attack outside Counterpart International, a non-profit group working with marginalized people in Afghanistan, began with an immense blast from a car bomb in a busy commercial area in central Kabul.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the death toll had risen to nine, including five members of the Afghan security forces, a guard at Counterpoint and three civilians.
Anti-poverty group CARE, which has offices close to Counterpart International, said three of its workers — a driver, a watchman and a technical adviser — were killed in the blast.
“This attack reflects the increasing dangers of humanitarian work in conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan and the unfortunate daily reality of violence for many Afghan families,” CARE said in a statement.
In addition, 20 civilians were wounded in the attack, which saw several Taliban gunmen storm the Counterpoint compound after the blast. They were all killed after Afghan commandos led an hours-long clearance operation.
Wednesday’s massive explosion felled trees and toppled dense concrete blast walls on the street outside Counterpart.
The blast radius extended hundreds of meters (yards) in all directions, blowing out windows in nearby homes and businesses.
Dozens of workers could be seen sweeping debris and broken glass from streets in the popular Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood in central Kabul, which is home to shops, restaurants and hotels.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Counterpart International was targeted because it promoted the “inter-mixing” of men and women.
Insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter the aid group had mentored “Kabul admin workers in various aspects of brutality, oppression, terror, anti-Islamic ideology & promotion of western culture.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30 aid workers were killed last year in Afghanistan — one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarians.
Afghanistan was once a hub of foreign aid but deteriorating security has seen international groups downgrade their presence, making it even more difficult to deliver crucial help to the war-torn country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Several aid groups, including Save the Children, have been the target of terror attacks and have suspended operations in the wake of the assaults.
Wednesday’s attack came even as US and Taliban officials were meeting in Qatar for peace talks.


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.