World Bank Preparing $3bn Emergency Aid For Ukraine

Ukrainians living in Greece and supporting people collect household necessities to be sent to Ukraine, at the Vlatadon monastery in Thessaloniki on March 1, 2022. Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP

 

The World Bank announced Tuesday that it is preparing a $3 billion aid package for war-torn Ukraine, which will include at least $350 million in immediate funds.

The first tranche of the aid “will be submitted to the Board for approval this week, followed by $200 million in fast-disbursing support for health and education,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a joint statement with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank in recent days had pledged to provide further support to Ukraine and have moved quickly to put that promise into motion.

The IMF, which has an ongoing $2.2 billion financing program with the country through June, will consider the country’s latest request for emergency financing “as early as next week,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Dole Out Over $1bn Aid To Afghanistan

The leaders of the global crisis lenders deplored Russia’s invasion of its neighbor and the impact it is having on the people and economy.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the devastating human and economic toll brought by the war in Ukraine,” they said, noting the “significant spillovers to other countries” including higher commodity prices that “risk further fueling inflation.”

In addition, the economic sanctions imposed on Russia “will also have a significant economic impact.”

The Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers met early Tuesday and promised to mobilize support for Kyiv while considering additional measures to further isolate Moscow.

Oil prices have soared to over $106 a barrel on Tuesday as the fighting intensified and hundreds of thousands of people fled Ukraine.

AFP

Greece To Send Ukraine ‘Defence Equipment’, Aid – PM

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivers a statement after a meeting in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. AFP

 

Greece will send Ukraine “defence equipment” and humanitarian aid, the prime minister’s office said Sunday, as Athens formally protested the deaths of 10 ethnic Greeks during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office said two military transport planes were to depart for Poland with “defence equipment” for Ukraine, without adding further details about what they would be carrying.

A separate shipment of humanitarian aid was also to be sent the same day, accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Hardalias, the premier’s office added.

READ ALSO: Russian Invasion: Over 368,000 People Flee Ukraine – UN

Also on Sunday, the Greek foreign ministry said it had presented an official complaint to the Russian ambassador over Saturday attacks it said had killed 10 members of the 100,000-strong ethnic Greek community in Ukraine.

On Saturday, Greece accused Russia of “murder” over the deaths in the southeastern Ukrainian villages of Sartana and Buhas.

“The ministry expresses its disgust at these unprovoked military attacks and calls on Russia to respect international humanitarian law and to stop attacks against the civilian population,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Mitsotakis tweeted on Saturday that “10 innocent civilians of Greek origin” had been killed “by Russian airstrikes close to Mariupol”.

Six other ethnic Greeks, including a child, were also injured, the foreign ministry said.

The mayor of Sartana has called for an evacuation to the nearby city of Mariupol, it added.

The Russian embassy in Athens has insisted that Moscow is “exclusively” targeting military units and installations in Ukraine.

But Greek foreign ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou on Sunday accused the embassy of lying.

“What the embassy said, I am sorry to say, is fake news. We have proof,” Papaioannou told Skai TV. “Orthodox bombs killed Orthodox ethnic Greeks.”

AFP

Omicron: UK Foreign Secretary Pledges £105m In UKAid To Nigeria, Other African Countries

 

The UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has pledged up to £105 million of UK emergency aid to help vulnerable countries tackle the Omicron Covid-19 variant, with a particular focus on Africa.

The vital aid will be delivered through trusted partners, such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and will:

“Scale-up testing – especially in parts of Africa where testing rates for Covid-19 remain lowest – allowing health systems to track and respond to the spread of the virus more effectively. This is in addition to the UK’s world-leading genomic sequencing support.

“Improve access to oxygen supplies for ventilators – a surge in demand for oxygen is a significant risk for some countries.

“Provide communities with hygiene advice, products and access to handwashing facilities and support deep cleaning in schools, health centres and other public places. This will build on the successful global hygiene campaign between UK aid and Unilever which has reached over 1.2 billion people since its launch in 2020.

“Fund the UK’s ground-breaking science and research into the spread of variants like Omicron to enable innovative evidence-based policy responses in low and middle-income countries.

“Ready the UK’s own expert emergency teams for deployment overseas to crisis hotspots, including with new medical equipment.”

READ ALSO: WHO Warns Of ‘Very High’ Omicron Risk As COVID-19 Cases Surge Worldwide

According to a statement from the British High Commission, the government has also confirmed today that over 30 million vaccines have been delivered so far as part of the UK’s pledge to donate 100 million doses to the world, benefitting more than 30 countries, including Nigeria.

Doses donated by the UK have reached four continents and provided vital protection from Covid-19 in countries including Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda.

Of the more than 30 million doses now donated so far, 24.6 million have been received by COVAX for delivery to countries and 5.5 million have been shared directly with countries in need.

The UK has so far donated to Nigeria over 1.2m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX in 2021. Millions more vaccines will be sent to Nigeria and other countries in 2022, including 20 million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses and 20 million Janssen doses.

The statement further notes that “the UK has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid-19. Today’s announcement builds on the £1.3 billion in UK aid committed to the international health response early on in the pandemic, supporting vaccines, health systems and economic recovery in developing countries.

“The UK Government has also invested more than £88 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the UK became the first country in the world to approve the jab a year ago today.

“In Nigeria, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) supported the improved capability and capacity of the NCDC for COVID genomic sequencing, which has now conducted more than 2000 tests compared to about 400 tests six months ago.

“The UKHSA is also building the diagnostic capacity in Nigeria for common childhood diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough) and other diseases of public health significance.

“The UKHSA is also supporting the development of national and subnational health security plans, including building the technical and leadership capacity within the NCDC.

“The UKAid funded Lafiya programme has also supported the procurement of £2m worth of PPE kits, protecting more than 5,000 health workers in the five Northern States: Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa.”

Thanks to AstraZeneca’s commitment to distribute the vaccine on a non-profit basis, 2.5 billion doses have been used in more than 170 countries, two-thirds of which are low- and middle-income countries.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK is providing vital assistance to help tackle the spread of new variants around the world.

“This is key to securing our freedom and ending this pandemic once and for all. I am proud that we have also delivered over 30 million vaccines to benefit our friends around the world this year.

“The UK is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Speaking also on the subject matter, the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The global pandemic has challenged health systems around the world and the best way to overcome this awful disease is to unite and stand side by side with our international partners.

“By supporting countries with the UK’s groundbreaking science and research into the spread of variants, improving access to oxygen and scaling up testing we will help those most in need chart their course out of the pandemic.

“I am proud that we have already delivered over 30 million vaccines to our friends abroad. The UK, as a global leader, is helping other countries most in need. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

In a similar vein, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “We welcome the UK’s commitment in new funding to protect the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa; the UK’s continued focus on COVAX and equitable global access to COVID19 vaccines, both through early financing commitments made at UNGA 2020, as well as meeting the Prime Minister’s G7 commitment to dose sharing – the 30m target set by the end of 2021.

“We look forward to operationalising the remainder of the UK’s dose sharing commitment via COVAX in 2022, while we also work with the UK Government on continuing to support Gavi’s ambitious 2021-2025 routine vaccination programmes, of which the United Kingdom is the largest funder through the PM’s commitment made at the UK-hosted Global Vaccine Summit in June 2020.”

IMF Chief Asks For Continued Debt Relief As Pandemic Aid Winds Down

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

With a pandemic debt suspension program in its final weeks, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday encouraged creditors in more advanced nations to continue offering aid to poor countries.

Early in the pandemic, G20 nations agreed to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offered 73 low- and middle-income countries the ability to halt debt payments during the pandemic.

That will expire at the end of the year, and the IMF chief encouraged countries to offer relief under the “Common Framework” aimed at DSSI-eligible countries that continue to struggle with their debt loads.

“We must speed up the implementation of the G20’s Common Framework for debt resolution,” Georgieva wrote in the Washington-based crisis lender’s blog released ahead of a gathering of the bloc’s leaders in Rome beginning Saturday.

“The keys are to provide more clarity on how to use the framework and offer incentives to debtors to seek framework treatment as soon as there are clear signs of deepening debt distress,” she wrote.

While the DSSI offers repayment over a fixed timeframe following a grace period, the Common Framework is more flexible, with repayment periods based on countries’ individual circumstances and provisions to require participation from private and other lenders.

More than 40 countries have received DSSI relief totaling $5 billion since it took effect in May 2020, according to the World Bank.

The pandemic aid program was originally scheduled to conclude at the end of last year but was extended through the end of 2021.

World Bank President David Malpass earlier this month called for a comprehensive plan to deal with debt loads in low-income countries, which surged 12 per cent to a record $860 billion in 2020 amid the pandemic downturn.

He said the DSSI “wasn’t broad enough,” adding, “I think there should be consideration by the world of what to do after January 1. And a suspension is something that could be considered.”

More Than Half Of Afghans Face ‘Acute’ Food Crisis, Says UN Agencies

Afghan people sit besides sacks of food grains distributed as an aid by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Kandahar on October 19, 2021. (Photo by Javed TANVEER / AFP)

 

Afghanistan is on the brink of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, UN agencies warned Monday, with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages.

More than 22 million Afghans will suffer food insecurity this winter, they said, as a drought driven by climate change adds to the disruption caused by the chaotic Taliban takeover of the country.

“This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation unless we can step up our life-saving assistance,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

The crisis is already bigger in scale than the shortages facing war-torn Yemen or Syria, and worse than any food insecurity emergency apart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials told AFP.

“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises — if not the worst — and food security has all but collapsed,” Beasley said in a statement.

“We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don’t act now, we will have a total disaster on our hands.”

According to the statement issued by the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one in two Afghans faces Phase 3 “crisis” or Phase 4 “emergency” food shortages.

Phase 4 is one step below a famine, and officials told AFP that Afghanistan — already struggling to emerge from a 20-year civil war — is facing its worst winter in a decade.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said: “It is urgent that we act efficiently and effectively to speed up and scale up our delivery in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of the country, with millions of people -– including farmers, women, young children and the elderly — going hungry in the freezing winter.”

In August, the hardline Islamist Taliban overthrew the US-backed regime and declared an interim government, vowing to restore stability.

But the Taliban still face a range of international sanctions and a campaign of bloody attacks by rival hardliners the Islamic State — while climate change has made Afghanistan’s droughts more frequent and intense.

– Hopes for ‘wet winter’ –

In the west of the country, thousands of poor families have already sold their flocks and fled, seeking shelter and assistance in packed temporary camps near major cities.

A visit by AFP journalists to the provinces of Herat and Badghis found families forces to sell their daughters into early marriage to cover debts and secure enough food to survive.

On Sunday, the Taliban announced a plan to pay 40,000 labourers in grain in the Kabul region, employing them to dig holes to trap the winter snow and provide moisture for barren hills.

Asked about the humanitarian crisis, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Sunday: “We are trying to get our people out of the current situation and help them. Global humanitarian aid has also arrived.”

“We are trying to arrange and distribute, including food and clothing. All worries will be resolved,” he added.

“Regarding the drought, we hope to have a wet winter. But if the drought continues we will take appropriate measures in the spring.”

The UN agencies warned that their humanitarian response plan is only a third funded as it stands.

The FAO is seeking $11.4 million in urgent funding and a further $200 million for the agricultural season into 2022.

Fearing new refugee outflows from Afghanistan, international donors have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for the country but they do not want to work with the Taliban directly.

“Hunger is rising and children are dying. We can’t feed people on promises –- funding commitments must turn into hard cash,” Beasley said.

“The international community must come together to address this crisis, which is fast spinning out of control.”

UN Seeks $76 million In Emergency Aid For Madagascar

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The United Nations said Tuesday that $76 million was urgently needed to help over one million people in southern Madagascar facing potentially life-threating shortages of food, water and health assistance.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA issued its so-called flash appeal after the impoverished island country in eastern Africa saw its agricultural season ruined by the worst drought in a decade.

At the same time, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns implemented to halt the spread of the virus have amplified the hit from the drought — the third in a row, it said.

“These compound crises have driven people to the brink of survival,” OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

“One in three people in the south are now severely food insecure,” he said.

More than 135,000 children under the age of five are now projected to be suffering from acute malnutrition in the south of the country in coming months.

Farming families usually get through droughts by sending members into cities to seek temporary work.

But OCHA said such coping strategies had been made impossible by the Covid-19 lockdowns, which have included months-long bans on travel between regions.

Just a week ago, the UN’s World Food Programme appealed for $35 million in emergency aid to help fight hunger in the region.

READ ALSO: EU Regulator To Clear Boeing 737 MAX Flights Next Week

Laerke said Tuesday the flash appeal was meant to complement Madagascar’s own national response and was focused solely on “the most urgent life-saving and life-sustaining needs of communities in the Grand Sud during the peak of the lean season.”

The assistance would help improve food security for 1.1 million people, provide water access for over 400,000 people and give nutritional support to 300,000 children under the age of five, he said.

It would also help provide essential health services to nearly a quarter of a million people.

Senegal Launches Huge Aid Scheme Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Food is stored in the courtyard of the community hotel in Yenn on April 28, 2020. – Senegal on April 28, 2020, kicked off a massive food distribution operation to help nearly half of its population cope with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is slowing down the economy of this West African country. Seyllou / AFP.

 

A man in Senegal’s coastal capital Dakar lifts a sack of rice onto a donkey cart, ready to take home much-needed essentials as coronavirus cases increase across the country.

He is an early beneficiary of one of West Africa’s biggest aid programmes for softening the impact of coronavirus restrictions.

Senegal has shut its borders, banned travel between cities and imposed a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew in a bid to curb the contagion, also mandating mask-wearing in government and commercial sites.

But 40 percent of the country’s roughly 16 million people live in poverty, often working in precarious informal jobs, and the restrictions have hit them hard.

Government-chartered lorries have been hauling supplies to the working-class Dakar suburb of Guinaw-Rails, where the first families received the aid on Tuesday.

Individual aid packages are lined up in the backyard of a cultural centre, each containing 100 kilos (220 pounds) of rice and 10 kilos of soap, as well as sugar, cooking oil and pasta.

Some 60 people were at the pickup point on Tuesday out of about 3,200 people covered under the scheme in Guinaw-Rails, which lies beside a disused railway track some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the centre.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Germany Extends Foreign Travel Warning To Mid-June

An official from the community development ministry on the scene said that the aid was being carefully handed out to 30 households each time in order to maintain social distancing.

“Each household will be summoned at a specific time,” he said.

The government has mobilised 888 lorries to transport provisions to all corners of the country, in a scheme worth 69 million CFA francs ($114 million, 105 million euros).

Set to benefit are one million households, comprising a projected eight to 10 million people in total.

Alongside the government handout, private companies, religious groups and local authorities are also making donations to struggling Senegalese.

– ‘No salary’ –

Ami Sakho, a 37-year-old fishmonger who has not worked since the beginning of the outbreak, was among the first people to receive her package on Tuesday.

“I can no longer leave (the house) because of this disease,” she said, noting that she had eight children and a jobless polygamous husband.

Sakho added she was pleased the “aid is going to the people in need”, although many in the country have feared the resources would be siphoned off.

Diarra Ndiaye, a school teacher of about 40, had also come to collect her provisions.

“This aid will relieve us. My husband is a carpenter but now, he stops work earlier,” she said, referring to the curfew.

“We have no salary. I have six children with my husband, who has two wives,” she added.

Before the aid handout, reports of suspected corruption linked to the scheme were widespread on social media.

But at a brief ceremony on Tuesday, Senegal’s Community Development Minister Mansour Faye dismissed the allegations, saying that the donations would proceed “by the book,” and that he had received no complaints so far.

“This is a very large operation, of great complexity,” he said, while urging people to maintain social-distancing measures.

— Spreading disease —

Senegal has recorded 823 coronavirus cases to date, with 9 fatalities — a low number relative to the outbreaks in Europe and the United States.

But authorities are increasingly concerned about an uptick in cases of community transmission, or cases which cannot be traced to known infections.

Such cases are an indicator that the outbreak may be bigger than detected.

Authorities detected one community-transmission case this week, who, alone, managed to infect 25 people, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry has previously warned that market traders — some of whom have defied travel restrictions — are particularly exposed to the virus.

Their people-oriented profession means they are also primed to spread the disease if they have it.

Despite increasing cases and government health messaging, violations of anti-virus measures remain common in Dakar.

At the start of Ramadan, for example, many of the faithful crowded in markets or in front of bakeries to break their fast, often without wearing the compulsory face mask.

AFP

COVID-19: Trump To Sell Ventilators To Developing Countries To Fight Virus

FUS President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

President Donald Trump’s administration said Friday it would sell ventilators to at least four developing countries to fight the coronavirus, saying US needs were being met.

Trump said he spoke by telephone to the presidents of Indonesia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras and promised that the United States would send the vital medical equipment.

“We will be sending them desperately needed Ventilators, of which we have recently manufactured many, and helping them in other ways,” Trump wrote on Twitter of his call to President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.

Michael Kozak, the top US diplomat for Latin America, confirmed the United States was selling the ventilators.

“We’re seeing our own needs met; we can become an exporter again,” Kozak told reporters.

“I think in many of these cases that the countries just want to buy them. They aren’t asking us for financing,” he said.

But Kozak said some countries may use assistance from the United States to make the purchases.

Governors led by New York’s Andrew Cuomo said they were seriously short of ventilators at the start of the pandemic and had faulted the federal government.

But Cuomo last week said New York would send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland as the situation had stabilized in his own state — the worst-hit by the pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in the United States.

With companies such as Ford and General Motors switching to ventilator production, Trump has boasted that the country as a whole is in good shape and said foreign leaders were asking him for supplies.

“No country is equipped like we are. We have 11 different places making ventilators,” Trump told reporters Thursday.

“Our country, as you know, doesn’t need them now. Our governors are very happy,” Trump said.

In his tweets, Trump praised Honduras and El Salvador for helping curb emigration to the United States — a signature issue for the mogul-turned-president.

Guatemala is also a major source of migrants but has temporarily stopped accepting deported citizens from the United States due to coronavirus infections.

Kozak said that Guatemala — not mentioned in Trump’s tweets on ventilators — was not being punished.

“There isn’t some hard linkage here between cooperation on removals and ventilators. We’re trying to get medicine and medical supplies to anybody who needs them”

IMF Rejects Venezuela’s Request For $5bn Coronavirus Aid

 

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday rejected economically devastated Venezuela’s request for a $5 billion loan to help it cope with the onslaught of coronavirus on the country that an aid agency warned is as prepared as war-torn Syria.

President Nicolas Maduro made the request earlier Tuesday but, in a statement hours later, the Washington-based institution indirectly cited a dispute over Maduro’s leadership in denying his petition.

In a letter to IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, Maduro said a $5 billion loan from the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) “will contribute significantly to strengthening our detection and response systems.”

It was the country’s first loan request to the IMF since 2001.

“Unfortunately, the Fund is not in a position to consider this request,” because there is “no clarity” on international recognition of the country’s government, the Washington-based institution said in a statement.

“As we have mentioned before, IMF engagement with member countries is predicated on official government recognition by the international community, as reflected in the IMF’s membership. There is no clarity on recognition at this time,” the statement said.

More than 50 countries including the United States have not recognized Maduro for more than a year, after switching allegiance to opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself acting president.

Guaido branded Maduro a usurper over the president’s 2018 re-election in polls widely seen as fraudulent.

But US sanctions and other international pressures have failed to dislodge Maduro, who is backed by Venezuela’s creditors China and Russia and retains the support of the powerful military.

Five years of crisis 

The RFI from which Maduro sought the assistance is a mechanism by which all IMF member countries can get financial assistance without the need to have a full-fledged economic program in place.

Venezuela’s health system is in tatters after five years of an economic and political crisis that has sent millions of people fleeing for lack of basic staples.

“We hardly have five per cent of the medicine stocks we need,” Douglas Leon Natera, head of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, told AFP earlier.

Jan Egeland, general secretary of the Norwegian Refugee Council, placed Venezuela in the same category as war-torn Syria and Yemen in its preparedness.

Like those countries, “there will be carnage” when the virus reaches parts of Venezuela given that “health systems have collapsed,” warned Egeland.

The country has 33 reported coronavirus cases, according to John Hopkins’ global tally, and Maduro has ordered a lockdown in the capital Caracas and six other states.

“At this crucial moment and aware of the high level of contagion of this disease, we will continue to take rapid and vigorous measures” to stop the advance of the pandemic, Maduro wrote in his letter to Georgieva.

“We are convinced that in permanent coordination with the WHO (World Health Organization) and the support among the countries of the world, we will be able to overcome this difficult situation.”

Security forces on motorcycles and in vehicles are patrolling the streets of the capital to enforce the containment measures and ensure only food stores remain open.

The country has banned flights to and from Europe, as well as Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic. It has also suspended school and university classes as well as sports events.

AFP

Trump Threatens To Cut Pakistan Aid

Trump Threatens To Cut Pakistan Aid
US President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform inside a hangar at the Harrisburg International Airport on October 11, 2017 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

President Donald Trump suggested Monday he would cut off foreign aid to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harbouring violent extremists and lying about it.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in his first tweet of 2018.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Last week, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration was seriously weighing whether to withhold $255 million in already delayed aid to Islamabad over its failure to better crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.

US-Pakistani ties have taken a nosedive under Trump, who in August declared that “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror.”

Earlier this month, Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid for good.

“We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” he said in unveiling his national security strategy.

And last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: “President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”

AFP