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Peace over war: 10 Taliban militants surrender in Afghanistan

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Kabul: Unprecedented, but true. As many as10 Taliban militants have joined the government-initiated peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, authorities said on Saturday.

“A total of 10 armed opponents, including their commanders named Bakhat Ali and Samar Gul, laid down their arms and joined the peace process,” Xinhua news agency quoted Afghan High Peace Council as saying in a statement.

“The former militants have handed over the weapons to authorities during a welcoming ceremony held in provincial capital Jalalabad city,” the Afghan High Peace Council said.

With the former insurgents’ surrender, peace and stability would be strengthened in several parts of the province, the statement said.

The government set up a 70-member High Peace Council and launched the peace and reconciliation process in 2010 to encourage Taliban to disarm and give up militancy against the government.

According to peace council officials, more than 10,000 Taliban militants have laid down arms since mid 2010, but the claim has been rejected by the Taliban armed outfit as baseless.

(With inputs from IANS)

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About 2M Children in Afghanistan Suffer Acute Malnutrition: UNICEF

But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said

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FILE - A boy walks inside what is left of a home in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 3, 2019. The U.N. Children's Fund is appealing for money to treat Afghanistan's malnourished children. VOA

About two million children in Afghanistan are acutely malnourished. Of those, 600,000 face severe acute malnutrition, the most dangerous form of undernutrition in children, said Christophe Boulierac, a spokesman for the U.N. Children’s Fund.

“Any child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is a crisis and needs to be treated to survive,” he said. “We cannot tell you how many children will die, but we can tell you that a child with severe acute malnutrition is 11 times more likely to die than their healthy peers.”

Afghanistan, alongside Yemen and South Sudan, is among the countries with the highest numbers of children under age five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Severe drought in 2018 has worsened the situation.

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But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said. Pixabay

Recent nutrition surveys across Afghanistan find 22 out of 34 provinces are above the emergency threshold of acute malnutrition. Last year, UNICEF provided life-saving assistance to nearly half of the country’s most nutritionally deprived children. It is aiming to reach 60 percent, or 375,000, of those children this year. But UNICEF is struggling to fund its operation. The agency needs an immediate injection of $7 million, Boulierac said.

“We are the sole provider of this treatment against severe acutely malnourished children,” he told VOA. “We need urgent funding in three weeks, otherwise, we will not send the necessary ready-to-use therapeutic food treatment to the 1,300 health facilities that are waiting for that.”

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This year, UNICEF has provided treatment to more than 73,000 severely malnourished children. Boulierac said plans are in place to immediately scale up the operation to reach more children as soon as more money is available.

He also warned that the nutritional status of Afghanistan’s children is likely to worsen without more secure funding in the pipeline. (VOA)