Food security deteriorates as unemployment rises in Afghanistan: World Bank
The Khaama Press | 16th March
The World Bank has said that food security in Afghanistan has worsened with 70 percent of households in Afghanistan are unable to cover their food and non-food needs in 20222. The percentage was 35 in the previous year.
The bank has said that people both in cities and villages are facing a decline in the quality and quantity of food as unemployment rises especially in rural areas.
The report by World Bank was released, March 15 after conducting a household survey in Afghanistan in the fall of 2021 to assess changes in the basic living conditions in the early days of the Taliban rule.

India to give an additional $1-billion emergency financial support to SL
The Island | 16th March
Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Wednesday morning to discuss bilateral matters and further Indian assistance to the island-nation, now in the grip of a major economic crisis.
Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda was present at the meeting.
It is widely expected that India will clear a further $1-billion emergency financial support that New Delhi and Colombo have been negotiating since Rajapaksa’s last visit to New Delhi early in December.

India proposes resuming passenger trains to and from Bangladesh from March 26
The Daily Star | 16th March
India has proposed to resume operations of passengers trains between the country and Bangladesh from March 26.
Indian Railway gave the proposal following Bangladesh Railway's (BR) letter to resume the operations, which remained suspended since March 2020 amid Covid-19 outbreak.
"We will now take decision regarding resuming operations after holding meeting soon," Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general (operations) of Bangladesh Railway told The Daily Star today.

AFGHANISTAN

WHO: 250 Afghan Kids Died of Measles in 15 Months
TOLO | 15th March
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Afghanistan has been experiencing a measles resurgence that started at the beginning of 2021.
According to WHO, from January 2021 to 13 March 2022, there have been 48,366 cases and 250 deaths. In 2022 alone, there have been over 18,000 cases and 142 children have died of measles in the country.
The WHO report said the low routine measles immunization coverage of 66%, and longer intervals since the measles follow-up campaign (2018), have resulted in accumulation of the high number of children aged less than 5 years old with no measles immunization.

Afghan Media Faces Challenges: Watchdogs
Afghanistan Times | 15th March
Many media watchdogs expressed concerns over the situation of the media in Afghanistan, saying that the Afghan media community is scrambling with various types of challenges.
The watchdogs meanwhile urged the Islamic Emirate and the UN to support Afghan journalists and media outlets.
At least 186b media organizations have halted their operations within the past seven months, the National House of Afghanistan’s Journalists said.

Turkey’s third humanitarian shipment arrives in Afghanistan
The Khaama Press | 15th March
Turkey’s “Kindness Train” coordinated by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) that left Afghanistan in February arrived in Afghanistan on Monday, March 14.
The shipment which is the third of its kind since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan consists of 994 tons of humanitarian aid that will be distributed to people in need.
 

BANGLADESH

Saudi Arabia committed to keep oil market stable: Saudi foreign minister
Prothom Alo | 16th March
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan has said that his country is committed to maintaining stability in the oil market. There is no reason to be concerned about the oil supply.
He made this remark while replying to questions from newspersons regarding oil supply amid the Russia-Ukraine war at a hotel in the capital.
Earlier in the day, he paid a courtesy call to Prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Later, he had a closed-door meeting with Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen.

US eyes to boost ties with Bangladesh
Bangladesh Post | 15th March
The United States await a scheduled partnership dialogue later this week, expecting it to expand “the robust” relationship with Bangladesh, coinciding with the 50th year of bilateral relations, US officials in Dhaka said.
Dhaka is set to host the 8th partnership dialogue on March 20 when US state department’s political affairs under secretary Victoria Nuland will lead a US delegation while foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen will head the Bangladesh side.

World Bank approves $120m loan for climate smart agriculture in Bangladesh
Dhaka Tribune | 15th March
The International Development Association (IDA), a concern of the World Bank (WB), will provide $120 million for the development of “climate smart agriculture and water management project”.
Bangladesh and the World Bank signed a loan agreement in this regard held at the Economic Relations Division (ERD), a wing of the Ministry of Finance.​​​​​​
 

BHUTAN

Priority is to prevent a surge in cases and save lives: PM
Kuensel | 15th March
Explaining the phase-wise relaxation of the lockdown, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, during a press brief said that everyone will get infected with the infectious Omicron variant and that the priority is to prevent a surge in positive cases and prevent deaths.
“Everyone will get infected with Omicron at some point in time. There are no possible ways to avoid it for long,” Lyonchhen said, adding that only those in retreat for years could avoid getting infected.  “The best thing is to avoid getting infected at the same time when there is a surge in the number of infections.”

Bhutan is on a mission to plant one million fruit trees
Daily Bhutan | 16th March
Inspired by His Majesty’s vision, the De-suung National Service in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is undertaking A Million Fruit Tree Plantation Project in Bhutan. The project was inaugurated in all the 205 Gewogs in which the fruit trees would be planted on 15th March 2022. 
About 1233 De-suups would be engaged in planting a million fruit trees across the country in a span of two and half months. The one million fruit seedlings would be less of those fruit trees already in abundant Bhutan and focused more on new varieties.
 

MALDIVES

Maldives Prez assures steps to reduce impact from Russia-Ukraine war
The Edition | 14th March
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that the government has initiated efforts to ensure reduced blowback from the Russia-Ukraine war.
In his public address, the island nation's President affirmed that the government has facilitated repatriation eases for Maldivians living closer to conflict-zones in neighboring countries to both Russia and Ukraine.
Moreover, President Solih confirmed commitment to ensure the local students, who were forced to fly back from Ukraine, receive continuation of their academic courses.

US launches USD 10.5 million Climate Change Adaptation project in Maldives
The Sun | 16th March
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its Climate Change Adaptation project for Maldives, worth USD 10.5 million.
The grant is in line with the government’s Strategic Action Plan to create resilient communities through strengthening adaptation actions and opportunities, and building climate-resilient communities to address current, as well as future vulnerabilities.
 

MYANMAR

Thai Firm Takes Over Myanmar Gas Field After Withdrawal of Chevron, Total
The Irrawaddy | 16th March
Thai energy company PTTEP has said it will take over the running of Myanmar’s vital Yadana gas field following the withdrawal of global giants Chevron and Total Energies in January.
The US and French firms said they would pull out of Myanmar following growing international pressure from human rights groups to cut financial ties with the junta after last year’s military coup.

Crime Wave in Myanmar’s Major Cities Sparked by Junta’s Coup
The Irrawaddy | 14th March
Residents of major cities such as Yangon and Mandalay are facing a crime wave after being hit by a recent spate of armed robberies, muggings and other crimes triggered by the post-coup economic downturn and soaring food prices.
On March 7, at least three men robbed a clothing shop in broad daylight on one of the two main roads in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township. The saleswoman was bound, gagged and robbed at knifepoint. The robbers reportedly took cash and purses, as well as the saleswoman’s phone.  
 

NEPAL

BRI to be in focus when Wang Yi visits Nepal this month
The Kathmandu Post | 15th March
Nepal signed up to the $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact in September 2017. After years of lingering, and controversy and discord in recent months, the lower house of parliament on February 27 ratified the compact along with a 12-point declaration. The decision has already been communicated to the MCC headquarters.
A board meeting of the MCC scheduled for this week is expected to adopt the decision made by the Nepali parliament before the compact enters into force.

Minister on a tour to the UAE, Qatar and Seychelles to discuss labour migration
Onlinekhabar | 14th March
Nepal’s Labour, Employment and Social Security Minister Krishna Kumar Shrestha ‘Kisan’ is leaving for a tour to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Seychelles to discuss labour migration issues.
The UAE and Qatar have remained two of the favourite destinations of Nepali migrant workers for the last few decades whereas the African island country of Seychelles has recently approached Nepal to sign an agreement to recruit Nepalis.
 

PAKISTAN

Govt lifts all Covid-related restrictions as pandemic wanes
Dawn | 16th March
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that the government was lifting all Covid-19 related restrictions across the country as Pakistan "has come close to eliminating the pandemic".
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said, "We have decided that all restrictions we have imposed related to the coronavirus on weddings, indoor dining and markets, we are ending all of them."

Pakistan dispatches humanitarian aid to Ukraine
The Express Tribune | 16th March
Pakistan on Tuesday dispatched humanitarian aid to Ukraine on the “request of its government” to help the people of the war-hit country.
The humanitarian assistance, being sent through two C-130 aircraft, includes emergency medicines, electro-medical equipment, blankets, food items and other items of human needs, according to state-run Radio Pakistan.
The relief items were handed over to the Ukrainian ambassador by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. 

Pakistan Values Its Strong Diplomatic, Defence Relations With Bahrain: COAS
The Nation | 17th March
Commander of the National Guard of the Kingdom of Bahrain General Shaikh Mohamed Bin Isa Bin Salman AI-Khalifa called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ in Rawalpindi.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and measures to further enhance professional cooperation between both the armies were discussed,” says a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Pak-Russia gas pipeline needed to overcome shortages, says Shaukat Tarin
The News | 17th March
Federal Minister for Finance and Revenues Shaukat Tarin said that Pakistan and Russia have broadly agreed to establish the North-South Gas Pipeline Project with an estimated cost of approximately $3 billion.
In the wake of an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Pakistan will have to move forward in a careful manner. This pipeline project has become important for Pakistan to move towards the finalization of this important deal, mainly because the country could not meet its pressing energy requirements without placing this much-awaited desired infrastructure.
 

SRI LANKA

Govt. to revisit proposed FTA with China
Daily Mirror | 17th March
After a gap of seven years, the government has decided to revisit the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with China, a top source said.
The FTA talks were first launched during the 2010-2015 period, under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
The Cabinet Sub-Committees on Economic Way Forward, which initiated deliberations under the Chairmanship of Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, have paid attention to it, Mirror Business learns.

Sri Lanka earns over $ 500 million from tourism in the first two months of this year
Colombo Page | 16th March
In the first two months of this year, 178,834 tourists have visited Sri Lanka and the island has been able to earn over US $ 500 million from the tourism industry, according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
The tourism industry, which collapsed due to the Covid-19 epidemic, is gradually recovering and the Central Bank notes that in the first two months of this year the tourism industry contributed US $ 582.8 million to foreign exchange earnings.

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