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Most nights, people fight and scream outside the small room where Elizabeth Maldonado and her four children sleep—or try to, at least—at a homeless shelter in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Maldonado’s 15-year-old daughter, in particular, fears that if she closes her eyes, someone will burst through the door.
It’s no wonder, then, that her kids—ages 17, 15, 12, and 9—often don’t log on to their virtual classes come morning, Maldonado said. They’re exhausted.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maldonado’s children are stuck in the room they share at the shelter, without the escape of going to school. They sometimes attend online classes from their beds, where they’re reluctant to turn on audio or video to talk to teachers and peers, as it would betray their cramped, noisy surroundings. And if they leave to find a quieter space, there’s the risk their stuff may be stolen.
“They want to go back to school,” Maldonado, a 46-year-old single mother, said. “The 15-year-old, she goes like, ‘Mommy, how could I log myself into class when they’re standing in front of the bedroom door screaming, yelling, cussing? I don’t want my teacher to hear all that when he calls out my name.’”
Maldonado doesn’t know if any of her children will be held back a year due to their chronic absences, she said. But she knows it’s not their fault.
About 1.5 million homeless schoolchildren, like Maldonado’s kids, rely on America’s education system for food, emotional help, a quiet place to learn with greater access to technology, and a sense of normalcy. So, when the virus thrust tens of millions of students and their families into an online learning environment that most schools weren’t prepared for, homeless kids suffered. They no longer had a place they could spend their days, just focused on learning, before heading back to shared housing, hotels, shelters, cars, and other unstable living circumstances.
School districts have tried to make it work. In the past several months, they’ve doled out laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to kids who can’t afford them, since nearly 17 million children lack high-speed internet access at home. Luckily, those sorts of efforts mean Maldonado’s kids have two Wi-Fi hotspots to share and laptops to use at the shelter.
School buses have been used to distribute free meals that would’ve otherwise been enjoyed in cafeterias. Some nonprofits and school districts have even set up in-person “hubs” for homeless kids who just need a safe place for online learning.
Homeless student liaisons have also tracked down kids at laundromats and motels to ensure families don’t miss out on much-needed services or a fair, equal education. In Maldonado’s case, a teacher purchased headphones for one of her kids so they could listen to relaxing music at night, she said.
“I just tell my kids, ‘All this will be over soon.’”
Even so, advocates and experts are concerned it’s not going to be enough to repair months of turmoil. Kids might be trying to learn from unstable, complicated environments, or, worst of all, might’ve dropped off the map.
“They’ve lost stability, normalcy, routine, safety, food, people who care for them, friends, and, of course, education as well,” said Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, a nonprofit that focuses on youth homelessness and education. “Very few and far between are the children who do better in a virtual setting.”
Nearly half of all U.S. school districts opted to restart this academic year with full, in-person instruction, according to an August report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Opening the year with an all-remote learning plan was more prevalent in urban districts with high concentrations of poverty and student homelessness, like Chicago.
“The communities who came into this epidemic with the fewest resources are the communities that are the most pressed to provide supports for their students,” said Anne Farrell, director of research at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Her work has long focused on systems that can support individuals and families experiencing adversity, including homelessness.
But even in districts where it’s possible to return to school, it’s not always in an impoverished child’s best interest. COVID-19 is still raging. And many homeless students have disabilities, are in poor health, or live with people for whom exposure to the virus could be deadly. So they’re forced to learn online for their safety.
Cintucker Powell, for example, fears for her 11-year-old son, SirLaurance Jones, who is asthmatic and at a higher risk of becoming ill with the virus. SirLaurance, who is also autistic and developmentally disabled, can’t wear a mask for very long and has a habit of putting his fingers and other items into his mouth. So he didn’t return to in-person school in Lawton, Oklahoma, this fall, even though the option was available to him.
That means Powell, a 44-year-old single mother who’s also disabled, is trying to assist her son with online learning from the tiny one-room home where she’s currently crashing with an older family friend. While there’s internet access, there’s no cooking stove and little privacy. And she’s worried she won’t be allowed to stay there for long.
SirLaurance has regressed during online learning. Words she’s worked hard to put into his vocabulary—like, “Help me,” and, “eat”—have faded away. He does, however, repeat “school bus,” since he’s wondering when it’ll come back to pick him up.
He’s also grown more agitated. SirLaurance and Powell log on to class together when they can, but they often wait to do schoolwork until the evening, when he’s calmer. In the meantime, Powell can’t afford the gas to travel to the locations where her local school district is distributing free meals. She’s worried SirLaurance can sense her stress.
Powell could escape homelessness with her fixed monthly disability income of $1,606 if she received help paying for a unit and utility deposit—which she’s currently fundraising for. What SirLaurance needs, she said, is a space where she could make learning fun for him again. She imagines living in a place where they’d have room to play or set up a little mock-classroom.
“He is why I am doing what I’m doing to try and make a better life for us, for him. Why I keep going and why I keep trying,” said Powell, who was hoping to build a career in the criminal justice system before she fell behind in her own college lessons due to the stress of the pandemic. “I just want what’s best for him. I don’t want to spoil him, I just want to give him what he needs.”
For families without internet access, it’s even more dire. N., a mother of four who lives in a Texas hotel, said that virtual learning worked well for her kids until her Wi-Fi hotspot gave out. (She asked VICE News to use few identifying details because she’s a survivor of domestic abuse.) When she sought help from the technology assistant at her child’s school, she was told to sign up for Comcast’s Xfinity, which costs $10 a month. She can’t afford that.
“They’ll be in the middle of class and it just cuts off.”
As of Oct. 8, her children had missed a week and a half of classes purely because they didn’t have the means to log on.
“I don’t want them to miss a lot of days,” she said. “They’ll be in the middle of class and it just cuts off.”
N., like Powell, opted in to remote learning. Her two youngest children still need to be enrolled in school. One of them, a 5-year-old, is autistic and has a heart condition.
N.’s family was kicked out of a shelter that was concerned about the spread of COVID-19 last spring, along with other homeless residents, she said. She could only afford the hotel room—and the small bit of stability it offers— because of a GoFundMe campaign.
“I don’t want to have to go back to another shelter and have my kids acting worse than what they are,” she said.
Chronic absenteeism—whether it’s caused by shoddy internet access or a turbulent lifestyle—has been linked to an increased risk of not completing high school, which, in turn, puts young people at a greater risk for experiencing homelessness later in life. Regularly missing class can hinder academic achievements and spur weaker reading proficiency, While nationwide attendance data specifically related to homeless students is limited, some families are unquestionably finding it more difficult to access the sort of education they had pre-pandemic.
“As we look at the larger issue over time of homeless, we’re looking at growing the ranks because we don’t have kids in school right now,” Duffield said.
Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, said it’s unclear how many of New York City’s roughly 114,000 homeless kids just stopped regularly showing up for school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, local city council members subpoenaed the city’s Department of Education for student attendance data broken down by race, gender, and class level, while also including whether the absent students were living in temporary housing, disabled, or English-language learners.
“The dropout rate was already high, and there’s a concern about whether that increases,” Levine said.
Levine’s organization has heard about instances of New York City’s homeless children falling behind or losing critical skills during online learning. Although the city worked out iPads and T-Mobile hotspots for homeless students, attorneys noted in a recent letter to the city’s departments of education and homeless services that shelters often fall in cellular “dead zones.”
Homeless parents aren’t always able to sit with their children at the shelter and help out, either, since they have to go to work, Levine said. Some also speak a language other than English and struggle to assist their children in comprehending assignments. (Kids in New York City are now allowed to return to in-person class for part of the week, but about half of the city’s schoolchildren are still doing fully virtual lessons.)
One older homeless girl even stopped eating during the distress caused by remote learning, Levine said. School was a haven for her.
That goes to show that children will need intensive support—including emotional support—once they return to school, according to Levine. How that will be accomplished when New York City is in an economic crisis, she said, is unclear.
Elizabeth Maldonado’s eldest son, Robert, a 17-year-old high school junior, says there’s still hope for kids like him, though. He asked that VICE News not use his full name.
While he’s not getting as much help these days in figuring out his college applications, he hopes to become an interior designer. He said he’s been diligent in trying to attend all his classes from the confines of the shelter, although he sometimes misses his earliest lessons. He’s often up until 3 a.m. And he rarely turns on his camera or microphone once he’s in class.
“I personally believe that in-person learning is a lot better for me—I like to participate in groups and I’m more of a hands-on learner,” Robert said. “Right now I have all my assignments turned in and I’m pretty much up-to-date.”
Maldonado said Robert has always been a good student. But she’s a mom, so she worries. It’s important to her that all of her kids graduate high school because she did not. And a diploma would allow them to go further in life.
But as long as she’s staying in the Englewood homeless shelter—and as long as there’s remote learning—working toward that goal will be challenging. On Tuesday, she said she had reached her breaking point with the shelter and was looking to go stay with a friend from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, where she works.
“I just tell my kids, ‘All this will be over soon,’” Maldonado said. “We’ll be in our own home where they can attend classes, where they can actually turn the cameras on because they’ll have their own spot. They’ll be in their own different, private places.”
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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