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An Afghan woman holds her child as her husband salvages their belongings outside their flooded house in northern Afghanistan.
An Afghan woman holds her child as her husband salvages their belongings outside their flooded house in northern Afghanistan.

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Abubakar Siddique, senior correspondent at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

Flash floods that have ravaged Afghanistan in recent weeks have exacerbated the hunger crisis in the country, aid agencies said.

Hundreds of people have been killed, thousands of homes destroyed, and thousands of hectares of farmland wiped out by the floods in northern Afghanistan since May 10.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) has warned that flooding is likely to intensify in the months ahead, with a major impact on food security.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said flood-affected areas are "hunger hot spots, most of which are already in crisis levels of food insecurity.”

Why It's Important: Survivors of the floods have said they urgently need help.

"We need shelter and water,” Tora Khan, a resident of Baghlan, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi. “Drinking water is very scarce because many wells were destroyed.”

Relief organizations have struggled to deliver aid to at least 80,000 people affected by the floods, most of them in the provinces of Baghlan and Ghor.

Without help, there are fears that some Afghans are likely to succumb to disease or starvation.

“We are in dire need of water,” said Mohammad Yaser, a resident of Baghlan, who added that some local charities had sent them some food and clean water.

“But we don’t know how long until we run out,” Yaser told Radio Azadi. “Maybe today or tomorrow.”

The UN estimates that nearly 24 million Afghans out of a total population of 40 million need humanitarian assistance this year. The WFP said almost 16 million Afghans are acutely food insecure.

What's Next: Afghanistan is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change. Experts say extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, are spurred by climate change and likely to increase.

The Taliban’s unrecognized government is internationally isolated and international humanitarian funding for Afghanistan has been declining.

That is likely to make the country ill-equipped to prepare for and react to major natural disasters.

What To Keep An Eye On

Turkish Airlines has resumed flights to Afghanistan. The airline suspended air travel to the country in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover in 2021.

Turkish Airlines said on May 21 that it will operate four flights from Istanbul to Kabul each week.

"I am jubilant," said Muska, a Kabul resident whose extended family lives in Turkey. "Now I can visit them, and they can visit us.”

Last year, Fly Dubai became the first major airline to resume flights to Afghanistan. Air Arabia, another low-cost airline in the United Arab Emirates, also restarted flights soon after.

Why It's Important: Turkish Airlines flights will make it easier for members of the Afghan diaspora, which numbers around 6 million, to visit their homeland.

The flights will also help the isolated country connect with the rest of the world. Istanbul is a major international aviation hub.

That's all from me for now.

Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have. You can always reach us at azadi.english@rferl.org

Until next time,

Abubakar Siddique

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Friday.

Dubai's lax regulations make it an attractive market for investments by alleged criminals, struggling politicians, and sanctioned individuals. (file photo)
Dubai's lax regulations make it an attractive market for investments by alleged criminals, struggling politicians, and sanctioned individuals. (file photo)

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Abubakar Siddique, senior correspondent at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

Leaked data has revealed that some officials of the former Western-backed Afghan government own luxury properties in Dubai.

The Dubai Unlocked project, a joint investigation by more than 70 media outlets, named 10 ex-officials or their relatives as holders of multimillion-dollar apartments, houses, or villas in Dubai.

They include former parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani and his son, Ajmal Rahmani. The pair own more than $15 million in real estate in Dubai, according to the documents.

Others named in the leaks include ex-intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid, who owns a villa worth around $5.4 million, and the brother and son of Mohammad Qasim Fahim, the late former defense minister and vice president, who own luxury properties worth more than $4.6 million.

Former ministers Amirzai Sangin, Atiqullah Baryalai, Ratib Popal, a cousin of ex-President Hamid Karzai, and former Ambassador Ahmad Wali Masud also own expensive Dubai properties, according to the leaks.

Why It's Important: After the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the first Taliban regime, Washington allocated billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Many ex-Afghan officials and U.S. contractors, some of them members of the new Afghan political elite, were accused of skimming some of those funds.

The Dubai Unlocked project has revealed that at least some of them purchased luxury properties in the United Arab Emirates.

The leaks have put the spotlight on the widespread corruption that was endemic under former Afghan administrations.

“Corruption was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the republic,” Khan Zaman Amarkhel, an Afghan anti-corruption expert, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi.

What's Next: It is unclear if all the former U.S. contractors and Afghan officials named in the leaks and accused of corruption will be held accountable.

In December, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Rahmanis for "misappropriation of millions of dollars.”

In January, the Rahmanis filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C. But in April, a court rejected their efforts to lift the Treasury sanctions until the case was settled.

The lawsuit revealed that the Rahmanis continue to hold Cypriot passports and own more than $212 million worth of real estate in Germany.

What To Keep An Eye On

The emergency situation in areas of Afghanistan hit by flash floods that have killed hundreds of people remains dire, according to rescuers and aid organizations.

Relief efforts have been hampered by the floods, which have made many roads inaccessible to trucks transporting food, medicine, and tents.

Twenty-five of the country’s 34 provinces have been affected by the recent floods, which were triggered by heavy rains on May 10. The northern province of Baghlan, where more than 300 people have died, remains the worst-affected region.

Some of the flood victims in Baghlan said they have received little help.

They include the family of Mohammad Alam, a resident of Baghlan. “The flood didn’t last long, but it came over me like a mountain,” he told Radio Azadi. “It took my son and wife. We have lost a total of six people.”

Why It's Important: Thousands of people continue to be displaced and urgently need food, shelter, and medicine.

International groups and Taliban officials have warned that the death toll could rise significantly. Hundreds of people are missing and feared dead.

The flash floods have exacerbated the devastating humanitarian crisis in the country, making thousands of people homeless and robbing many in agricultural areas of their livelihoods.

That's all from me for now.

Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have. You can always reach us at azadi.english@rferl.org

Until next time,

Abubakar Siddique

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Friday.

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Radio Azadi is RFE/RL's Dari- and Pashto-language public service news outlet for Afghanistan. Every Friday, in our newsletter, Azadi Briefing, one of our journalists will share their analysis of the week’s most important issues and explain why they matter.

To subscribe, click here.

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