News Digest – National Security and Climate Change (August 12 – 18, 2021)

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As of August 17, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 814,127 and the death tally has reached 10,354. There are 38,871 active cases of infection in the country while 687,069 people have made a recovery. The country recorded 3,274 new cases and 27 deaths on August 17.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on 9th August has warned that the current trends suggest that the global temperature could rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius which could spell disaster for the environment and humanity. Reports suggest that this violates the threshold to ideally limit global warming it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, by the end of this century in the 2015 Paris Agreement. This could be particularly devastating for countries like Nepal that are one of the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

Taliban takeover has raised security concerns in Afghanistan and what it means for Nepali nationals stranded there. According to reports, there are between 2,000-15,000 Nepalis in Afghanistan. While most are contractors as security guards recruited by private military contractors, some are laborers and some are undocumented. While those with regular jobs have been assured evacuation by employers, those undocumented are without agency and are hoping the Nepal government will facilitate their evacuation. The Nepal government has asked foreign embassies in Kabul to facilitate the evacuation of Nepalis in Kabul but any headway is yet to be made.

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. Photo: AP

Nepal was caught on the back foot during both waves of the pandemic. The second wave was particularly devastating for Nepal due to low vaccination percentage and more transmissible and deadlier Covid-19 variants making the rounds. The preliminary report of a large-scale seroprevalence study carried out by the Health Ministry states that over 50 percent of the population has been exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19. According to reports, the survey was carried out in 76 of the 77 districts of Nepal, barring Manang with support from the World Health Organization (WHO). “The study has found that the majority of the population in densely populated cities across the country has antibodies for the coronavirus”.

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