Over 100 artifacts previously stolen from Afghanistan and taken to Japan through the black market will be returned to Afghanistan sometime next year, according to a report today from asiaone.com.
The items, which include the famous “Left Foot of Zeus” and a piece of a mural removed from the Bamiyan Caves were being held in Japan’s Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum. The report stated that the items were being held there because of the the turmoil in Afghanistan. The organization wanted to wait until the situation in Afghanistan had settled and that they can be returned without being destroyed by an extremist regime, like the Taliban who blew up the Bamiyan statues back in 1998.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) had been working with the Japanese organization holding them to have these cultural assets returned to Afghanistan. “We have determined that Afghanistan can responsibly preserve and exhibit the cultural properties,” Noboru Noguchi, a member of the committee and the director general of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, said at a press conference early this month.
After a shaky start in the ICC (International Cricket Council) World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Afghanistan’s national cricket team managed to defeat Papua New Guinea (PNG) today by 6 wickets to secure themselves a spot in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 World Cup once again. Â The upcoming tournament is scheduled to be held from March 11th to April 3rd in India between 16 teams.
In today’s 20 overs play-off game, PNG opted to bat first and scored 127 runs, losing 6 wickets. Afghanistan reached the target, losing only 4 wickets. The bulk of the runs for Afghanistan came from former captain, Nawroz Mangal. He provided the team with 65 of the 128 runs they scored, and his performance earned him the Player of the Match honors. Once the Afghans won, fans rushed on to the field holding up Afghanistan’s flag and celebrating the win.
Asghar Stanikzai, who provided the Afghan team with the second highest number of runs (22) said, “We are very happy, it was important for us to qualify”.
Hassib Rahimi, an executive with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) recently told France’s AFP news agency that Afghanistan will launch it’s first-ever online marketplace to allow local Afghan businesses to export their products directly to world markets.
The effort will improve the Afghan economy as exports will be boosted and new jobs will be created. Â ”The project will be first launched in the big cities in a year. We also have plans for big campaigns to reach out the rural areas to enable people to sell their products,” Rahimi told AFP.
Through this new online marketplace, Afghans will be able to sell such items as agricultural produce, handicrafts, precious stones and carpets. According to the report, funding for the project ($20 million) will come from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) based Pride Group.
A Chinese couple, Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, successfully projected the image of the tallest Buddha in Bamyan Valley on June 6 and 7, using the latest cultural relics-friendly technology, eliciting cheers from the local people. For more photos, please check out:Â http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2015-06/12/c_134321952.htm
According to Afghanistanâ€™s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), the European Union (EU) is expected to lift a long-held ban on Afghan aviation services by the end of 2015. Once the ban is lifted, various Afghan airlines will be able to fly to European destinations. – Tolo News
A cultural center will be built in Afghanistan’s central province of Bamiyan. The project, which will cost $2.5 million, will be funded by South Korea. Construction will start next year and will take 2 years complete. – Bakhtar News Agency
The United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan (UNFPA) has donated five ambulances and three HiAce model vehicles to health care centers in Afghanistan’s central province of Daikundi. Local officials are hoping that the new vehicles will help to resolve health services issues in province. – Pajhwok
A 140-meter-long and 8-meter-wide bridge has been constructed to connect Tani District to the provincial capital (Matun) in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost. The bridge, which was named Segai, will Â ease local transportation issues. – Khaama Press
Khalida Noori, an Afghan civil activists from Kandahar province was given the Madeleine K. Albright award by the Washington based National Democratic Institute (NDI) for her work on women’s rights in Afghanistan. – Ariana News
For example, a tree plantation drive is currently in process in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. According to a report yesterday (February 25, 2015) from the Bakhtar News Agency (BNA), a campaign is underway to plant one million saplings in Kabul. Kazem Humayun, an official from Afghanistan’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stressed the need for greater participation from every day citizens in the success of these sort of campaigns.
Also, according a to report yesterday from the Afghanistan Times, a two-week campaign has been launched by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags in the country. Â According to the Afghanistan Times report, 500 billion plastic bags are used annually in Afghanistan, and they contribute to various types of pollution (air, water & soil). Eventually, this pollution leads to negative effects on peopleâ€™s health. Ahmad Jan Naeem, the Deputy Minister of Public Health was quoted as saying: â€śThrough this campaign our teams will try to create awareness in [the] public about [the] harms of using plastic and [the] pollution caused by it. The teams will also distribute reusable cloth bags to create [a] culture of using non plastic bags in the country. Citizens will also be told to dispose plastic-made items properly.”
Afghanistan’s Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported that a new building for the Ahengran Girls School in Ghor province was inaugurated earlier this week. The $130,000 project was funded by the Japanese government and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). According to the BNA report, the building has 8 classrooms, 3 administrative rooms, and other educational facilities that will serve more than 400 students.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, BNA reported that two schools that were closed due to a series of problem were reopened earlier this week. The education department of Farah province reopened the Naw-Bahar Primary School, and the Rokey Girls High School. Education officials said the reopening was in part due to the cooperation of local elders and leaders in the province.
While not perfect, there has been major improvements in the area of education in Afghanistan. According to US agencies, the Afghan government, and UN sources, school enrollment alone went from around 1 million to 8.7 million from 2003-2013.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reported today that the government of South Korea will contribute $12 million to the organization so that the first soy milk factory can be built in Afghanistan. WFP will work with an organization called Nutrition Education International (NEI), a non-governmental organization (NGO), to build the factory in Afghanistan’s northern province of Parwan.
The factory will produce protein-rich, sterilized soy milk from soybeans to help reduce malnutrition in the country. The WFP report added that the “residual soybean pulp from the milk-making process will be turned into chicken feed. This feed will be provided to vulnerable local women to encourage them to raise poultry to generate income”.
Cha Youngcheol, the Korean ambassador to Afghanistan said that “the Korean Government hopes the soy milk factory and chicken feed project contribute to Afghanistanâ€™s reconstruction by supporting farmers and women to become more productive and by improving the nutrition of the Afghan people.â€ť The factory is expected to be operational in 12 months.
The Upper House (Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders) of Afghanistan’s parliament awarded medals to Afghanistan’s U19 (Under 19) cricket team yesterday. Chairman of the Meshrano Jirga, Fazel Hadi Muslimyar, also presented an appreciation certification to the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) officials.
The team had come in first place in the recently held ACC (Asian Cricket Council) U-19 Premier League tournament. With this title, Afghanistan’s U19 team will now compete in the ICC (International Cricket Council) U19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2016. Furthermore, the team had also defeated rival Pakistan 2-1 in their U19 tour in October.
The medals and certificates were given to the players and officials in a special ceremony held in the Meshrano Jirga Hall. ACB Chairman Shahzada Masood referred to the young players as “peace ambassadors, and said he believes the team will once again bring honor to the nation when they compete in the 2016 U19 World Cup.
Thirty-six playgrounds will be built in Afghanistan’s central east province of Maidan Wardak, according to a report today from Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN). Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Maidwan Wardakâ€™s provincial governor, told the news agency that 46 million Afghanis will be spent to construct these playgrounds. He added that they will be used for volleyball, football (soccer), and cricket games. The playgrounds will be built in Maidan Shar, the capital of the province, as well as in the districts of Syedabad, Nirkh and Jalrez. The work is expected to be completed in 3 to 4 months, according to the PAN report.
In other news, Khaama Press reported today that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged $216 million for a women’s empowerment program in Afghanistan. According to the report, the program’s main goal is to boost female participation in Afghanistan’s economy. The program aims to provide better opportunities for Afghan women, so they can obtain leadership roles in both the political and private sectors.
At the annual Tibetan Carpets International Exhibition, two Afghan carpet companies (Qadir Rauf Ltd & Â Kazimi Allahdad Ltd) were awarded for achieving excellence in design and quality. A third company (Baig Brothers) was declared the best participant in the exhibition.
The event was held from August 6th to 11th in Tibet City, China. According to Afghan officials, around 150 countries had participated in the event. Fifteen companies participated just from Afghanistan. The event which is considered the only international handmade carpet exhibition in China, brings together carpet makers from different countries under one roof.
Afghan officials announced that that the Afghan companies managed to secure exporting contracts with foreign companies during the exhibition amounting to US $1 million. Najila Habibyar, the head of Afghanistan’s Export Promotion Agency told the Afghan media that the export of Afghan rugs and carpets to global markets including the United States, Germany and China has increased by 21 percent recently. This number is expected to grow further as the Afghan carpet and rug industry grows.