Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WHO Plans Global War on Cholera as Yemen Caseload Soars

WHO Plans Global War on Cholera as Yemen Caseload Soars

By Tom Miles, Reuters on September 19, 2017

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization will next month launch a strategy to stop cholera transmission by 2030, it said on Monday, as an unprecedented outbreak in Yemen raced towards 700,000 suspected cases with little sign of slowing down.

The WHO is also trying to keep the lid on a flare-up in Nigeria while tackling many entrenched outbreaks in Africa and an epidemic in Haiti, where almost 10,000 people have died since 2010.

“Once it’s out of the box, once it has spread, it’s very, very difficult to contain and we have a huge number of cases and deaths,” said Dominique Legros, the cholera focal point at WHO’s department for pandemic and epidemic diseases.

Epidemics often arise in war zones. The WHO is sending an expert to Bangladesh to assess the risk for Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in Myanmar.

“The risk is probably relatively high,” Legros said.

In Yemen, the most explosive outbreak on record has caused 686,783 suspected cases and 2,090 deaths since late April. The number of deaths has slowed but the spread of disease has not: in the past week there were 40,000 suspected cases, the most for seven weeks.

Legros said it was impossible to predict how any outbreak would evolve, but Yemen’s was likely to continue for a long time. The low death rate suggested the outbreak was not severe, although there may be many uncounted deaths in the community.

The number of suspected cases in Yemen cannot be checked accurately, and many may be acute watery diarrhea, which has similar symptoms and treatment but is not caused by the cholera bacterium, which is spread by contaminated food and water.

The WHO estimates there are 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths globally each year, far more than officially reported.

Equipped with a vaccine stockpile that it created in 2013, it plans to launch a global strategy on Oct. 4.

“The objective of the new strategy is to stop transmission by 2030,” Legros said. “Overall, we expect reduction of mortality by 90 percent by 2030.”

The strategy will aim to use the vaccine to contain outbreaks as fast as possible, while addressing deeper problems.

In Africa, growing urbanization, climate change, conflict, displacement camps - as well as sanitation investment that is a third of what it should be - mean there is no reason to expect any improvement without deliberate action, he said.

BBC opinion piece on US future role in Afghanistan (***opinion***)

Viewpoint: Why the US should withdraw from Afghanistan

  • 22 August 2017
  • From the section

US Marines and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers carry flags during a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on 29 April 2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAll US troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, says Professor Andrew Bacevich

US President Donald Trump has committed his country to an open-ended war in Afghanistan that is likely to see more troops deployed. Before becoming president, he had on several occasions advocated the withdrawal of US forces.
Many analysts believe Mr Trump made the right decision in changing his mind. But some do not. They argue the costly war is at a stalemate and American troops should come home. Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University, told the BBC why he thinks withdrawal is the best option.
If keeping US troops in Afghanistan could guarantee that our country would not be targeted by further terrorist attacks, I would favour making our longest war longer still.
But the terrorist threat has evolved since 9/11 and keeping US forces in Afghanistan does not "make America safe".
The opposite is true. Occupying countries in the Islamic world exacerbates the threat rather than reduces it.
Donald Trump as a candidate appeared to get that but now as president has reversed course.
He has returned to establishment views held by the generals that advise him. They insist that there is no alternative than to keep doing what we have been doing since 2001. It is an odd argument: that the most powerful country on the planet has no alternative but to persist in failure.
The argument for continuing the war in Afghanistan assumes that Afghans are incapable of managing their own affairs. It also assumes that our presence and our assistance can make Afghanistan governable.

For almost 16 years, we have tested that proposition. No evidence exists to support it, nor is there reason to think that more of the same - that is what Trump is proposing - will produce better results. Certainly half-measures will not work.
One might speculate that a major escalation - a couple of hundred thousand troops, a few trillion dollars, a decade or so of further exertions - might turn things around. But neither the American public nor Congress nor President Trump himself will support any such effort. As the president said on Monday, Americans are weary of this war.
I am not naïve. I have zero expectation that if the US and its allies withdrew that somehow the various factions in Afghanistan would get together and create a stable, liberal democratic order.
However, it is not implausible to consider the possibility of Afghanistan and its neighbours cobbling together arrangements enabling the various factions to more or less co-exist.
Can I guarantee that this would happen? No.
But if you have been pursuing one course of action for a decade and a half and it hasn't worked, maybe it's time to seriously consider alternatives.
Frankly, if Afghans could cease to fight among themselves and refuse to provide sanctuary to terrorist organisations, that would more than satisfy US interests.
Even if the Taliban regained power, would they embrace IS, al-Qaeda or other such entities? The answer is not necessarily. The last time they did they paid a heavy penalty.
The key would be to create incentives encouraging good behaviour on their part. Economic assistance could be offered as a positive incentive. Promising severe punishment - punitive air strikes, for example - in the event of misconduct might also figure.
Professor Barry Posen of MIT has suggested that a US departure from Afghanistan would energise other countries in the region, like Pakistan, Iran, India and Russia, to exert themselves to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.
I think this is an important perspective. We should not accept President Trump's absolute certainty that if we leave then Afghanistan will become a terrorist haven.
Finally, I would emphasise that the more preoccupied we are with Afghanistan, the less attention we give to far more pressing issues such as climate change and potential instability in East Asia.
The strategically prudent course of action for the US is to acknowledge our failure and leave.  

Saudi boy arrested for doing the macarena

Saudi police have released a 14-year-old boy who was arrested after footage emerged of him dancing the Macarena in the street at a busy intersection.
The footage was filmed some time ago but went viral this week, prompting police in the conservative kingdom to detain the teenager.
The interior ministry said the teen was released without charge after he and his guardian were questioned about his "improper public behaviour" by officers.

Afghanistan's president praises Trump's Afghan strategy at UN

(CNN)The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, used a substantial part of his speech before Tuesday's session of the United Nations General Assembly to praise President Donald Trump's recently announced strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
"With President Trump's recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan's enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected," Ghani told the audience at the UN headquarters in New York.
He said the strategy, which states that US military engagement in the country will be based on conditions rather than timelines, provided a certainty over US support for Afghanistan which he said the Afghan people had been seeking "for years."
    "We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty," Ghani said.
    American military commanders have similarly long sought an enduring US troop presence in Afghanistan that is based on battlefield conditions rather than an arbitrary withdrawal timeline -- seeing it as a critical component of any strategy that aims to drive the Taliban to the negotiating table and compel meaningful cooperation from Pakistan.
    Ghani for his part called on "all ranks of the Taliban" to engage in dialogue with the Afghan government.
    He also echoed Trump's strategy in asking Pakistan to do more to foster security and stability in the region, calling on Pakistan to join a "comprehensive dialogue" and saying that the Afghans had "proven that we are committed to peace."
    Afghan and US officials have long accused Pakistan of taking insufficient military action against Taliban leadership in that country.
    "President Trumps' new strategy includes the disruption and denial of sanctuary to terrorists whose motives know no boundaries," Ghani said.
    Ghani said Afghanistan is doing a lot more to combat corruption and promote merit over patronage, issues long prioritized by the US.
    There are about 11,000 US troops currently deployed to Afghanistan. The majority of them are in supporting roles, assigned to the NATO mission to train and advise Afghan security forces alongside approximately 6,000 troops from other NATO countries. The remainder of US forces in Afghanistan carry out counterterrorism missions in the country.
    Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday that just over 3,000 additional US troops were in the process of deploying to Afghanistan in order to be part of a "stronger train, advise and assist effort."
    And Ghani sought to link the fight in Afghanistan to the global fight against terrorism.
    "The future of Afghanistan matters because we are on the front lines of the global effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism," Ghani said.
    Ghani, a former World Bank official, praised international institutions like the UN for helping to foster stability in the wake of the second world war, but he said new efforts were needed to confront the "threats we are facing to our economies, our security and our values."
    "We must confront the threat of terrorism as a united force and meet it with a long-term solution that matches the long-term agenda of the terrorists themselves."
    In addition to saluting Trump's new strategic direction, Ghani took time to criticize Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, saying her "lengthy silence" on the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya "was tragic."
    Ghani made the comments during the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

    Friday, August 18, 2017

    The Kites of Kabul

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    Image result for ‫افغانی بادبادک‬‎

     Afghans gather on a Friday on Nadir Shah Hill, or Kite Hill- to fly paper kites and battle others in a traditional match. When a Kite is cut children with long brooms have to catch the kites before their prize blows away. Kite flying is a popular recreation for Afghan children

    This isn't a kite photo, but a stunning panorama of Kabul.
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