External News in Brief

The European Commission is providing 127,427 euros in humanitarian aid to assist those most affected by the April floods that hit Central and Northern Kazakhstan. The funding supports the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan in delivering much needed relief, including non-food items and hygiene kits. Operations are mostly concentrated in the Karaganda province, as it is the most affected. Over the next three months, the assistance will directly benefit nearly 1,000 vulnerable families, including female led households, families with many children or elderly members and those withheavily damaged dwellings or that lost property and belongings. The funding is part of the E.U.’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). In early April, a sudden temperature rise in central and eastern Kazakhstan resulted in a quick melting of snow that caused serious flooding. More than 12,000 people were evacuated to schools, mosques and relatives’ houses.

 

First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev held a meeting with the Minister of Ore Mining and Oil of Afghanistan Daud Shah Saba on May 18, where the parties discussed both humanitarian and economic issues. During the meeting, Sagintayev stressed that Kazakhstan is friendly to the government of Afghanistan headed by President Mohammad Ashraf Gani and head of the executive branch Abdulla Abdulla. He expressed hope that the country’s new leadership will be able to implement new reforms aimed at improving the welfare of Afghans. Meeting participants noted that trade between the two countries has increased (in 2014, trade between the two countries was $336.6 million, a growth of one third in comparison with 2013). They also noticed that there is still much room for the countries to up statistics. One of the important mechanisms in expanding bilateral relations is the Kazakh-Afghan intergovernmental commission on trade-economic cooperation. Regarding humanitarian relations, Sagintayev noted that Kazakhstan continues to carry out an education programme for Afghanistan’s youth. From 2010 to 2020, over one thousand Afghan students will be educated at Kazakhstan’s higher educational institutions. The total cost of the programme is $50 million. During the meeting, Sagintayev highlighted that Kazakhstan actively supports international efforts aimed at stabilising the situation in Afghanistan.

 

The volume of cargo transported from China to the EU via Kazakhstan along the Western Europe-Western China corridor will increase by 2.5 times by 2020, senior Researcher at the Department of Economic Research of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies Yevgeniy Hon said at a May 14 media briefing.“According to experts, delivery optimisation will increase the volume of cargo flows by 2.5 times by 2020. The total combined amount will be 33.9 billion tenge (US$182.29 million),” Hon said. According to the institute, the full commissioning of the Western Europe-Western China corridor will take place in 2017. He also noted that Kazakhstan has implemented a number of major transport and logistics projects, including the already completed railway lines Zhetygen-Khorgos and from Uzen to Turkmenistan. In 2015, the Zhezkazgan-Beyneu line and Arkalyk-Shubarkol were commissioned. “The Zhezkazgan-Beineu line will reduce the route by 1,138 kilometres from West to East and goods will be delivered in about four days’ time. The Arkalyk-Shubarkol route will reduce the distance by 550-700 kilometres from Central Kazakhstan to the North. As a result, transportation costs will shrink by 35 percent,” he stressed. According to the researcher, the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran project is particularly important to the country. It was launched in 2014, the total length of the corridor is 928 kilometres. “The launch of this line is important for Kazakhstan because it expands its export destinations; in particular, it gives better access to Middle Eastern markets.”

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