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Russia invades Ukraine as explosions are heard in Kyiv and other cities

As Russian military forces and Russian-backed separatists continued striking targets across Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the public to remain calm while declaring martial law. Missile strikes and military barrages struck Ukrainian targets from the country's northern, eastern and southern borders. The strikes drew quick international condemnation of Russia, from capitals across Europe to Asia. The invasion also shook financial markets around the world; global oil and gold prices soared, U.S. stocks tumbled and indices across Asia recorded significant losses while European markets opened with a downward reaction. Zelenskyy said in his morning public address that he had been in touch with U.S. President Biden following the Russian invasion, reported NPR's Tim Mak. "We are strong,"...

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Spurning Demand by the Taliban, Biden Moves to Split $7 Billion in Frozen Afghan Funds

WASHINGTON — President Biden is starting to clear a legal path for relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to pursue $3.5 billion that Afghanistan’s central bank had deposited in New York before the Taliban takeover, while also seeking to steer a roughly equal amount toward spending to aid the Afghan people. Beginning that process, Mr. Biden issued an executive orderFriday morning invoking emergency powers to consolidate and freeze all $7 billion of the total assets the Afghan central bank kept in New York. The administration said it would ask a judge for permission to move $3.5 billion to a trust fund it would set up to support the needs of the Afghan people, like for humanitarian relief....

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Over a Million Flee as Afghanistan’s Economy Collapses

ZARANJ, Afghanistan — From their hide-out in the desert ravine, the migrants could just make out the white lights of the Iranian border glaring over the horizon. The air was cold and their breath heavy. Many had spent the last of their savings on food weeks before and cobbled together cash from relatives, hoping to escape Afghanistan’s economic collapse. Now, looking at the border they saw a lifeline: work, money, food to eat. “There is no other option for me, I cannot go back,” said Najaf Akhlaqi, 26, staring at the smugglers scouring the moonlit landscape for Taliban patrols. Then he jolted to his feet as the smugglers barked at the group to run. Since the United States withdrew troops...

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For struggling Afghanistan families, next meal a matter of faith

As winter sets in, Afghan widow Kubra needs to find fuel to heat the single room where eight family members live in the central province of Bamiyan. The flour they bought months ago is running out, so food is also becoming scarce. “We got two sacks of flour last spring which we are still using. After that, we have to have faith that God will help us,” the 57-year-old said in a room lined with rice sacks to keep out the cold. Their firewood was stolen when they left their home amid the chaos that engulfed Afghanistan, as the Taliban swept towards Kabul on their way to seizing back control of the country. Stories like Kubra’s are increasingly common in...

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Avoid starvation - ‘Immediate priority’ for 3.5 million Afghans

Launching a global fundraising winter campaign to help forcibly displaced families in Afghanistan and elsewhere to cope with the most life-threatening months of the year, UNHCR Spokesperson Babar Baloch described it as “a crisis of hunger and starvation". "People don't have enough to eat, and it's very visible”.  Displaced lack proper shelter  Following his recent return from Kabul, Mr. Baloch said in Geneva that a lack of insulated shelters, warm clothes, insufficient food, fuel for heating, and medical supplies are just some of the deprivations confronting people who have been forcibly displaced.  With temperatures “expected to drop to -25C, many displaced families lack proper shelter – a primary requirement if they are to survive the bitter cold”, he warned.  3.5 million in need  UNHCR is appealing for increased support for 3.5 million people displaced by conflict...

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