VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: August 02, 2021
Clashes Intensify in Herat as Reinforcements Arrive: TOLO News

The government deployed more security forces to the western city of Herat on Sunday a day after the Taliban advanced closer to the central parts of the city.Local officials said that the clashes intensified in villages in the western parts of Herat city. Abdul Rahman Rahman, senior deputy of the Interior Ministry, also visited Herat city on Sunday and said that a large-scale operation will be launched against the Taliban in Herat.
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Taliban will not resume peace talks until situation on battlefield changes: Ghani : The Khaama Press News

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused the Taliban of not taking peace talks seriously until the situation on the battlefield changes in the country. President Ghani added that the Taliban has not been changed but changed adversely. Afghan president was talking to a special cabinet meeting- Digital week- in the Presidential palace (ARG) on Sunday.
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Afghan Watchdog Reports 80% Increase in Civilian Casualties- TOLO News

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in a report released Sunday said that 1,677 civilians were killed and 3,644 more were wounded in the first six months of this year, showing an 80% increase compared to the same period in 2020.The watchdog says 1,594 security incidents occurred during this period. In the first six months of 2020, the watchdog says, 1,213 civilians were killed and 1,744 more were wounded.
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Critics Speak Out Against Recent, Current MoI Leadership- TOLO News

Members of Parliament and a former police chief have raised criticism over what they view as the shortcomings of the leadership of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). They say that for the past year leaders at the ministry have been appointed due to relations rather than merit and that these officials have fallen short in carrying out their responsibilities.
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Bangladesh, India start freight train services on Haldibari-Chilahati route- The Daily Star

“Bangladesh and India today (Aug. 01, 20221) started regular operation of freight trains through the restored Haldibari-Chilahati rail route, aiming to "strengthen rail connectivity and bilateral trade" between the two countries. It will also enhance rail network accessibility to the main ports and dry ports to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka today.”
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খুলছে গার্মেন্টস: লাখো কর্মীর নিরাপত্তার কী ব্যবস্থা নিচ্ছি (Opening Garments: What measures are being taken for the safety of millions of workers): Tapas Barua – The Daily Star Bangla

“Overpopulation, cheap labor, and state favors for export-oriented trade — all of which have made Bangladesh a global producer and supplier of goods. The only product that Bangladesh supplies extensively in the global supply system is readymade garments. We are the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world. Bangladesh supplies about six percent of the world market for readymade garments. In return, about 75 percent of Bangladesh's foreign income comes. The contribution of this sector to the country's GDP is about 12 percent.”
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Month of Mourning begins – Dhaka Tribune

“The month of mourning begins today as the nation recalls once again the most brutal assassination in its history and renews the pledge to safeguard the country's independence and sovereignty. The month of August returns at a time when the country is passing through a trying period of a pandemic and also at the end of the over yearlong observance of Bangabandhu's birth centenary and the ongoing golden jubilee celebrations of the country's independence. The killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on the fateful night of August 15, 1975 is the ugliest chapter in the nation's history.”
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Bhutan Scripts Rare COVID-19 Success Story- Voice of America

“The mountain kingdom of Bhutan has scripted a rare success story in the South Asian region devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting just two deaths, about 2,500 cases and inoculating 90% of its adult population in one of the world’s fastest inoculation campaigns. Experts say mobilizing the community, meticulous planning by authorities and international donations of vaccines paved the way for the tiny country with limited resources to get a grip on the pandemic and emerge ahead of most nations.”
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India, still the number one grant provider- Bhutan Today

The Government of India has released an amount of Nu./Rs. 810.22 million to the Royal Government of Bhutan for the smooth implementation of various development projects in Bhutan. These projects are spread over diverse sectors inter alia Education, Culture, Industrial Development, Highways and Infrastructure development.
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Bhutan enters Olympics for the first time through qualification – The Bhutanese

“It is for the first time in the history of Bhutan that an archer, Karma, entered the Olympics as a qualified athlete. Bhutan is participating in 4 disciplines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; Karma as an archer, Lenchu Kuenzang as a shooter, Sangay Tenzin as a swimmer and Ngawang Namgyel as a judoka.”
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Media misinformation creates wrong knowledge in the society: Sonam Tshering - The Kuensel

“Studies have revealed that “crime stories are commonly presented as dramatic entertainment” by media and media sets the agenda to seek more “audiences to believe that those issues merit more attention.” In a democracy, the primary role of media is ensuring “transparency and accountability, and to raise the public awareness and to facilitate a place for public discussion.” Therefore, any misinformation can also lead to wrong perceptions in the society including public confidence and trust in the justice system. Media as a medium of information must provide correct information to its consumers.”
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Ex-Pres Yameen summoned by pres commission on deaths, disappearances - Avas Daily Newspaper

Former President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom is being summoned by the Presidential Commission on Deaths and Disappearances regarding the disappearance of journalist, Ahmed Rilwan.
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Chinese concessions on loan repayments still in place, says Minister - Avas Daily Newspaper

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has refuted claims made by Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed that the Chinese government has not extended any concessions to the Maldives on loan repayment. In an interview given to AVAS last week, Minister Shahid said the world's wealthiest nations, the G7 countries made the decision to extend debt relief for vulnerable countries in its bid to support the challenges associated with COVID-19. In this regard, the Chinese government also extended concessions to countries that have borrowed from China, said the minister.
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MVR 123 million issued as pension in July - Raajje

As per the statistics publicized by the Maldives Pension Administration Office, most of this was issued as basic pension; over MVR 90 million to 19,107 pensioners. Basic Pension is a lifetime pension benefit given to Maldivians who have aged 65 years and above. The main objective of the basic pension scheme is to provide citizens who are retired and do not receive enough from their retirement pension with enough money to fulfil their basic needs.
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Maldives police charges key suspect in terrorist attack targeting former president Nasheed -

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has forwarded charges against one of the key suspects in a terrorist attack targeting the Speaker of Parliament and former president Mohamed Nasheed.
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Myanmar army ruler takes prime minister role, again pledges elections - Reuters

Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing has taken on the role of prime minister in a newly formed caretaker government, state media reported on 01 August, six months after the army seized power from a civilian government. Min Aung Hlaing repeated a pledge to hold elections by 2023 and said his administration was ready to work with a future regional envoy on Myanmar.
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Myanmar Junta Weaponizing Aid - The Irrawady

Chris Sidoti from the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar is right, the situation in Myanmar is a humanitarian disaster created by the generals. The combination of the spread of highly infectious COVID-19 variants and a collapsing healthcare system caused by the military’s coup has created a humanitarian emergency in the country. People are dying in big numbers and most of those deaths are preventable. But even as there is a dramatic need to provide rapid public health assistance, the junta has been quick to weaponize aid.
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Protests, accusations against Myanmar junta six months on from coup - Reuters

Small groups of students protested against Myanmar's military junta on Saturday in Mandalay and a human rights group accused the armed forces of crimes against humanity as the country approached six months since the army's takeover. The junta later on Saturday accused the country's ousted civilian leaders and some foreign diplomats of disseminating "fabricated, distorted and one-sided information”.
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Nepal records 2,568 new Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths in the last 24 hours: MoHP - Nepal Live Today

“At least 2,568 persons tested positive for Covid-19 across the country in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. Out of 12,636 tests, 2,568 samples tested positive, while 2,020 Covid patients recovered in the past 24 hours. Eighteen patients died of the virus in the same period. According to the Ministry, Kathmandu Valley reported 848 new cases, including 591 in Kathmandu, 91 in Bhaktapur and 166 cases in Lalitpur. So far, Nepal has reported a total of 759,307 cases, including 656,197 recoveries and 9,875 deaths.”
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Melamchi flood sweeps away 17 more houses – The Republica

“Seventeen houses and huts in Helambu Rural Municipality and Melamchi Municipality of Sindhupalchowk were washed away by a flash flood in the Melamchi River last night. According to the District Police Office (DPO), incessant rain for the past some days triggered the flood. “Of them, nine are cemented residences,” said Rajan Adhikari, Superintendent of Police (SP) at the DPO. Earlier, Helambu Rural Municipality and Melamchi Municipality were devastated by a flood on June 15.”
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'We are participating in the government with Madhav Nepal group' – Kantipur Daily

“We also had a question about the authenticity of the party that is over. Soon the government will get perfection. Discussions begin on Sunday evening. Ministers are selected after the ministries are divided.”
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Let’s not give up on SAARC – Nepal Live Today

“Major decisions related to SAARC are dependent on member countries’ leaders but civil societies can do much. There is a big reason for not giving up on SAARC. The Secretariat can do its own work, with more ambition, determination and a much stronger communication strategy.”

Pakistan to carefully watch India’s UNSC conduct: DAWN

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said on Sunday that Pakistan will watch carefully to ensure that India does not hurt the country’s core interests during its presidency of the Security Council. India took over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from France for the month of August.
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Govt jacks up petrol price by Rs1.71 per litre- The Express Tribune

The government on Friday jacked up the price of petrol by Rs1.71 per litre effective from August 1 (Sunday), following fluctuation in the global oil prices. The Finance Division issued a statement in this regard on Saturday. The decision was made as per the recommendation of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra). The new price of petrol will be Rs119.80 per litre against the current rate of Rs118.09 per litre.
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You can’t keep hungry people under lockdown: PM Imran shows displeasure at Sindh govt’s decision. : DAWN

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticised the partial coronavirus lockdown imposed by the Sindh government against the federal government's wishes, explaining that doing so would break the back of the common man.He expressed his views on the issue while conversing with the people of Pakistan in a live question-and-answer session via telephone. The premier began the session by thanking the people of Pakistan for cooperating with the government over the first three waves of the Covid-19 pandemic…..
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Govt set to seek extension of election ordinance: DAWN

The resolution seeking extension in the period of the ordinance authorising the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to purchase electronic voting machines (EVMs) and enable overseas Pakistanis to participate in the election stands in the name of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan on the 14-point agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat for the sitting of the assembly to be held on Monday (today) after a two-day recess.
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Sri Lanka
Moragoda heading to Delhi with a roadmap to restore ties - The Island

Sri Lanka’s new High Commissioner to New Delhi, Milinda Moragoda, is heading to India with a roadmap to restore ties, the Indian media reported. Moragoda will take with him a roadmap focused on the fishermen’s issue as well as trade and investment and religious links. The document has reportedly been prepared by a team led by Moragoda, Deputy High Commissioner Niluka Kadurugamuwa and diplomats based at missions in New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai, The Hindu has reported.
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Qatar sets rules for arrivals from six Asian countries including SL - Daily Mirror

Qatar has updated its travel policy for passengers arriving from six Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, instituting mandatory hotel quarantine for them, Gulf News reported. Starting from Monday, arrivals from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka who have got vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in Qatar will go into two-day hotel quarantine, the Health Ministry said.

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WHO Director-General commends Sri Lanka for being able to meet vaccination target - News First

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has commended Sri Lanka for managing to vaccinate over 3 million persons in the last 7 days. Ghebreyesus has also pointed out that Sri Lanka will be able to fully vaccinate 10% of its population ahead of the target set, in September.
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COVID-19 death toll in SL crosses 4,500 - Ceylon Today

With another 67 deaths confirmed for Saturday (31) by authorities today, Sri Lanka's COVID-19 related death toll crossed the 4,500 mark. Accordingly, Sri Lanka's COVID-19 related death toll currently stands at a total of 4,508.
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KNDU among issues Sirisena and FSP discuss in Colombo - The Island

The SLFP would hold further discussions with the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) on the issues faced by the people, an SLFP spokesperson told The Island yesterday. This followed a discussion between the two parties yesterday at former President and SLFP leader, Maithripala Sirisena’s house in Colombo 07. Sirisena had represented the SLFP, party General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera said. Education Secretary of the FSP, Pubudu Jayagoda said that the discussion had been fruitful as there was agreement about certain important issues.
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