Uzbekistan signs new agreement with Afghanistan on operation of the Hairatan – Mazar-e Sharif rail link

Uzbekistan Railways (Uzbek state-run railway company) has confirmed the decision to restore services. A statement released by the Uzbek state-run railway company, in particular, says a meeting with participation of senior representatives of Uzbekistan Railway and Afghanistan Railways Department took place last week.

Uzbekistan Railways said a new contract was signed between Afghan Railway Administration and Uzbekistan’s Sogdiana Trans on further operation of the Hairatan -- Mazar-e-Sharif line.

The Taliban-run railway authority also confirmed that the freight train consisting of 50 cars crossed the border on February 10.

Recall, Uzbekistan suspended railway cargo shipments to Afghanistan on February 1, noting that the Taliban had failed to fulfill the technical obligations as per an agreement signed in late December.

Uzbekistan Railways built a 75-kilometer rail link connecting the Hairatan dry port and Mazar-e-Sharif in 2010. Sogdiana Trans was established a year later to operate and service this line.

Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) the railway highlights the cooperation between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, both member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program. Uzbekistan’s national railway company constructed the railway, including three station buildings, two buildings for passing loops, automatic signaling, and gated automatic-level crossing.

Hairatan is one of the major transporting, shipping and receiving locations in Afghanistan.[2][3][4][5] It is also an official border crossing between the people of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Source: Asia-Plus

Dostum calls on Dushanbe and Tashkent to hand over former Afghan govt’s aircraft to NRF fighters

Khaama Press News Agency said on February 12 that Dostum has said that these helicopters should be used by the NRF personnel in different provinces of Afghanistan.

General Dostum has reportedly stated this at a ceremony in London commemorating the martyrdom of Khair Mohammad Khairkhah, one of the key NRF commanders who was killed in the fight against the Taliban in Andarab valley in northern Baghlan province.

According to Dostum, at least 40 helicopters of the former government’s army were transferred to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Dostum further added that opposition groups should decisively stand against the Taliban, and carefully think about the future structure of Afghanistan, otherwise, there will be no escape from the continued tortures and killings of the ruling regime.

His remarks came days after the Brookings Institution based in the US released an investigative report, claiming that NRF’s resistance would not pose any immediate threats to the Taliban regime. The reports also added that they do not see any alternative group or power to replace the ruling regime in Afghanistan.

Khaama Press says “that prior to this, the United States Defense Department had announced that 46 flights had landed in Uzbekistan and 18 others in Tajikistan until August 21, 2021.”

In April, Uzbek authorities reportedly announced that helicopters and aircraft of Afghanistan’s former government will not be handed to the Taliban. Ismatullah Irgashev, Uzbekistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan had said that the military equipment belongs to the U.S. and will be kept in Uzbekistan in collaboration with Washington.

Recall, Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Michael Kurilla, who visited Dushanbe on June 15-16 last year, said, “The United States is working with the Tajik government to determine the best way to effectively use and maintain the aircraft.”

He said the aircraft would definitely not be returned to Afghanistan "because they do not belong to the Taliban." "Our hope is to be able to hand over some or all of the aircraft to the Tajik government. I do not have a timeline on when this will occur, but we are working hard to make this happen," General Kurilla added.

Afghan media reports noted in 2021 that before the fall of the former government, Afghanistan had over 164 active military aircraft and now only 81 are in the country. The rest were reportedly taken out of Afghanistan and brought to different countries.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reported on August 26, 2021 that over 45 Afghan Air Force aircraft were flown out of the country in mid-August, likely to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Taliban. Satellite imagery of Termez International Airport in Uzbekistan captured on August 16 reportedly revealed several dozen Afghan military assets situated on the airport’s tarmac. The platforms visible in the imagery reportedly included C-208 utility aircraft, A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, and Mi-17, Mi-25, and UH-60 helicopters.

CSIS noted that the aircraft and helicopters were no longer visible in imagery of the airport acquired on August 21, 2021 indicating that their stop in Termez, Uzbekistan, was temporary and they were relocated. Imagery acquired on September 1, 2021 of Bohktar International Airport in Tajikistan reportedly revealed that 16 of the utility/transport attack aircraft previously seen at Termez International Airport were transferred here.

It is to be noted that dispute over the helicopters flown out of Afghanistan between the Taliban and the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has begun a few days after the Taliban came to power in Kabul.

Source: Asia-Plus


Rescuers from Tajikistan have pulled a three-year-old boy alive from under the rubble in the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras, the toddler had spent 158 hours there, the press service of the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense of Tajikistan reported on Monday.

"After hours of search and rescue mission in the Onikisubat area of Kahramanmaras city using special equipment to find people under the rubble, rescuers of the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense managed to find and save a toddler, 3, named Yavuz. He was under the rubble for 158 hours," the press service said.

According to the press service, having found him, "rescuers turned off the equipment, in order not to scare the child more, and crawled to him."

On February 11, rescuers from the Tajik Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense pulled a father and his six-month-old baby alive from under the rubble. They had been there for six days waiting for help. The press service also noted that while in Turkey, Tajik rescuers pulled 78 bodies from the rubble.

Tajikistan sent a group of 50 rescuers and doctors, as well as 2.5 tons of special equipment to Turkey to help deal with the aftermath of the February 9 earthquake. Besides, Dushanbe has sent 100 tons of humanitarian aid, which includes basic necessities and food.

The earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 hit the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras on February 6, nine hours apart. The tremors, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, were felt in ten provinces as well as in neighboring countries, of which Syria was the most affected. The death toll in Turkey exceeded 29,000 people.

Source: National News Agency

WHO warns that the risk of cholera outbreak is high

According to the report, since mid-2021, the world is facing an acute upsurge of the 7th cholera pandemic characterized by the number, size and concurrence of multiple outbreaks, the spread to areas free of cholera for decades and alarming high mortality rates.

In 2021, 23 countries reported cholera outbreaks, mainly in the WHO Regions of Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. This trend reportedly continued into 2022 as 30 countries across five of the six WHO regions reported cholera cases or outbreaks.

As of February 1, 2023, at least 18 countries continue to report cholera cases. The report notes that as according to the seasonality patterns large parts of the world are in currently in low or interepidemic transmission period this number could increase in the months to come.

The mortality associated to those outbreaks is of particular concern as many countries reported higher case fatality ratios (CFR) than in previous years. The average cholera CFR reported globally in 2021 was 1.9% (2.9% in Africa), a significant increase above acceptable (<1%) and the highest recorded in over a decade. Preliminary data suggests similar trend for 2022 and 2023.

The potential drivers of the outbreaks and challenges impacting response activities were highlighted in the last Disease Outbreak News. The simultaneous progression of several cholera outbreaks, compounded in countries facing complex humanitarian crises with fragile health systems and aggravated by climate change, poses challenges to outbreak response and risks further spreading to other countries.

The overall capacity to respond to the multiple and simultaneous outbreaks reportedly continues to be strained due to the global lack of resources, including the oral cholera vaccine, as well as overstretched public health and medical personnel, who are dealing with multiple disease outbreaks at the same time.

Based on the current situation, including the increasing number of outbreaks and their geographic expansion, as well as a lack of vaccines and other resources, WHO assesses the risk at the global level as very high.

According to WHO, Africa is facing an exponential rise in cholera cases, with infections in the single month of January already at a third of the level reached in the whole of 2022.

More than 1,200 people have died in the deadliest cholera outbreak in Malawi's history and several other African nations have reported outbreaks, WHO said on February 10 calling for strong interventions.

Malawi has reported nearly 37,000 confirmed cases since March 2022 in its worst cholera outbreak on record.

As far as Tajikistan is concerned, media reports said in the early 1990s the Tajik refugees returning from Afghanistan were bringing home cholera.

WHO noted on July 1993 that seven cases of cholera have been diagnosed so far and two of the victims have died. Two more people were reportedly diagnosed as carriers. All the cases reportedly occurred in villages near the town of Panj on the Tajik-Afghan border in the southern province of Khatlon.

The disease came from Afghanistan, where more than 600 cases of cholera were diagnosed in July 1993.

No cholera death cases were reported in Tajikistan in 1994, down by 100 percent from the previous year.

In August 2013, Tajikistan temporarily closed the border it shares with Afghanistan's province of Badakhshan amid reports of a cholera outbreak there. Some 1,500 residents in Afghanistan's Badakhshan province were diagnosed with cholera in August 2013.

Source: Asia-Plus

Man inflicts several stab wounds on his 19-year-old wife and her 8-year-old brother

It was noted that on February 9, he came to the home of his wife’s parents at around 11:30 pm, where his 19-year-old wife was.

He reported inflicted four stab wounds on his sleeping wife and a stab wound on her 8-year-old brother, who slept next to the young women.

The victims have been hospitalized.

The Interior Ministry’s official website says the man committed this cruel act out of jealousy.

Source: Asia-Plus

Project aimed at improving community resilience launched in Rasht Valley

Rasht Valley is geographically situated in the northeastern part of the country and is prone to various natural hazards. Most people lack access to basic public services, such as safely managed water and adequate sanitation facilities. The depletion of natural resources is putting a strain on the livelihoods of communities that are mostly dependent on agriculture.

Recognizing these challenges, the Government of Switzerland and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) launched a five-year project titled “Improving community resilience through sustainable livelihoods in the Rasht Valley” (ICR). The project aspires that people enjoy an improved quality of life in resilient, prosperous and equitable communities which are governed on principles of good governance and social inclusion in: the Fayzobod, Nurobod and Sangvor districts and Roghun Town of Rasht Valley.

The inception workshop was chaired by Mr. Qurbonzoda Beg Khol, the First Deputy Chairman of the Local Development Committee under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. Representatives from the lower chamber of parliament, government representatives, chairmen of four districts in the Rasht Valley and the national Government, the Resident, Resident Representative of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Swiss Cooperation Office, the heads of AKDN agencies, international development organizations, and Community-Based Organizations participated in the workshop.

The importance of the project was aptly summarized by Mr. Qurbonzoda Beg Khol, “The project in Roghun, Fayzobod, Nurobod and Sangvor in the Rasht region will target 32,000 people, 50% of whom are women. The project will allow citizens to benefit from basic services and improve their quality of life in the next five years”.

The project leverages the success of two phases of the Integrated Health and Habitat Improvement” (IHHI) projects that were implemented between 2013 and 2022 by AKDN agencies in the Rasht Valley. This was further articulated by Mr. Richard Chenevard, the Deputy Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office, “Among the many lessons we learnt from our previous project, there is one I would like to underline: the quality of the results depends on the support it receives from the communities and from the authorities. Let's walk this journey together”.

Mr. Qozidavlat Qoimdodov, Resident Representative of AKDN stressed the commitment of AKDN towards this project and the importance of its implementation by saying: “Today’s meeting is dedicated to the ‘Improving community resilience through sustainable livelihoods in the Rasht Valley’ Project as an auspicious format for presenting and expanding constructive and ongoing implementation initiatives programs between local authorities and development partners”.

The project will be executed in close collaboration with the relevant government ministries, committees, and agencies through the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), and Accelerate Prosperity (AP).

Source: Asia-Plus

Electricity rate for Tajik aluminum smelter raised by 64 percent

The head of the Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) Electricity Distribution Networks, Ivailo Stoyanov, remarked this at a news conference in Dushanbe today.

According to him, the company has payed 15.57 dirams per 1 kWh of electricity from January 1 this year.

Before that, TALCO had paid for electricity on average at the rate of 9.5 dirams per 1 kWh ( 7.2 dirams per kilowatt hour in the spring-summer period and 11.8 dirams in the autumn-winter period).

“Starting from January 1, this year, the company pays for electricity at the single rate of 15.57 dirams per 1 kWh all year round,” Mr. Stoyanov noted.

He said the electricity rate has been raised, first of all, in order to eliminate subsidies for some consumers at the expense of others.

It is to be noted that the electricity rate for TALCO has remained unchanged for the last decade, while for other categories of electricity consumers, it has been raised on average by 15 percent regularly.

For the last time, the Tajik authorities raised electricity tariffs on October 1 last year for all categories of consumers, with the exception of TALCO.

Thus, current prices for 1 kWh of electricity are 26.51 dirhams for federally funded institutions, including public utilities and sports complexes, 60.65 dirams for industrial enterprises, 9.2 dirams for pumping stations for mechanized irrigation and repair-and-production bases of the Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation under the Government of Tajikistan for period from April 1 to September 30 and 26.25 dirams for them for the period from October 1 to March 31, and 9.2 dirams for vertical drainage wells and land reclamation pumping stations

The Tajik Metallurgical Plant now pays 10.64 dirams per 1 kWh during the period from May 1 to September 30 and 60.65 dirams per 1 kWh during the period from October 1 to April 30.

Residential customers now pay 26.51 dirhams for usage up to 10,000 kilowatt-hours, and 66.65 dirhams for usage in excess of that amount.

The Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) is one of the ten largest aluminum smelters in the world and the only aluminum producing plant in Central Asia. TALCO is wholly owned by the Tajik government. Tajikistan does not mine alumina but imports the raw material through tolling arrangements.

Construction of the Tajik aluminum plant (TadAZ) began in 1972, and the first pouring of aluminum took place on March 31, 1975. The Tajik aluminum smelter has a rated capacity of 517,000 tons of primary aluminum per year.

On April 3, 2007, TadAZ was officially renamed to TALCO – Tajik Aluminum Company.

Source: Asia-Plus

Tajik Rescuers Save 3-Year-Old Boy Who Spent 158 Hours Under The Rubble In Turkey

Rescuers from Tajikistan have pulled a 3-year-old boy alive from under the rubble in the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras. The toddler had spent 158 hours there, the press service of the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense of Tajikistan reported on February 13. Tajikistan sent a group of 50 rescuers and doctors, as well as 2.5 tons of special equipment, to Turkey to help deal with the aftermath of the February 9 earthquake. The death toll in Turkey has exceeded 33,000 people. The press service also noted that Tajik rescuers have pulled 78 bodies from the rubble.

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