The UN Security Council on Thursday expressed sympathy for the Afghan people in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, while continuing to press Taliban authorities to lift restrictions on women and stabilize the country.
“We urge the Taliban to immediately reverse the policies and practices that currently restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls, and which continue to aggravate the humanitarian, economic, human rights crisis. and social, and undermine the objective of sustainable development. peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Albanian Ambassador Ferit Hoxha told reporters on behalf of nine of the 15 council members.
On March 23, the Taliban authorities announced the continued closure of secondary schools for girls. The UN says 1.1 million girls have been affected.
“In no other country in the world does a government ban girls from going to secondary school,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told council members.
Restrictions on movement, work
Decrees also restricted the movement of women without male relatives and sought to dictate what professions they could work in. On May 7, the Taliban ordered all women to cover their heads and faces in public and urged them to stay at home.
“If the Taliban want to normalize their relationship with the international community, they must reverse the steps they have taken to exclude women from social, political and economic life – immediately,” said acting US policy adviser Trina Saha.
No country has recognized the Taliban authorities, who seized power in August as US and NATO troops withdrew from the country.
While the human rights situation has deteriorated, the security situation is becoming increasingly unpredictable. At first, the end of the conflict after the Taliban took power led to a decrease in the number of civilian casualties, but violence is on the rise again.
“We are witnessing clashes between the forces of the de facto authorities and the armed political opposition, particularly in the provinces of Panjshir and Baghlan, as well as IEDs [improvised explosive device] targeted attacks and assassinations against targets of the de facto authority, by both the armed political opposition and ISIL-KP [Islamic State-Khorasan]UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov told council members via video from Kabul.
On Monday, the Security Council sanctions committee dealing with the Taliban extended travel ban exemptions to 13 of the group’s officials, allowing them to travel abroad for possible peace talks.
Activist Yalda Royan told council members they should end these exemptions for Taliban leaders if there is no progress on women’s rights in the next 60 days.
“If Afghan women can’t move freely, why should the Taliban? she asked.
The problems mount
Wednesday’s deadly earthquake was yet another blow to the Afghan people. Years of conflict, recurrent drought and severe economic crisis have left more than 24 million Afghans in need of humanitarian assistance, an increase of 6 million people since the start of 2021.
Nearly half of the population – about 19 million people – is food insecure, including 6.6 million in emergency situations. As the UN seeks to scale up its aid, it faces a severe funding shortfall. It has received only a third of the $4.4 billion it needs this year for Afghanistan, despite donor pledges of more money.
“Now is not the time to hesitate,” said UN aid chief Griffiths. “Without intervention, funding, humanitarian aid, basic services, we will have another winter of discontent and a winter of unrest and a winter of pain for the Afghan people.”