Kabul [Afghanistan], January 21 (ANI): Top UN officials have conveyed a direct message to the Afghan Taliban calling on them to put the good of the country first and end recent policies towards women and girls, who have been confined to their homes.
In a statement, the UN said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, the Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, and the Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Political, Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, Khaled Khiari, completed a four-day visit to Afghanistan to engage de facto authorities with the Afghan people.
In meetings with the Taliban in both Kabul and Kandahar, the delegation directly conveyed the alarm over the recent decree banning women from working for national and international non-governmental organizations, a move that undermines the work of numerous organisations helping millions of vulnerable Afghans.
In a statement, the UN said the de facto authorities have also moved to close universities to female students across the country until further notice, and have barred girls from attending secondary school, restricted women and girls' freedom of movement, excluded women from most areas of the workforce and banned women from using parks, gyms and public bath houses.
"My message was very clear: while we recognize the important exemptions made, these restrictions present Afghan women and girls with a future that confines them in their own homes, violating their rights and depriving the communities of their services," Mohammed said.
During their mission, the UN delegation met with affected communities, humanitarian workers, civil society and other key actors, in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.
"We have witnessed extraordinary resilience. Afghan women left us no doubt of their courage and refusal to be erased from public life. They will continue to advocate and fight for their rights, and we are duty-bound to support them in doing so," Bahous said.
The United Nations and its partners, including national and international non-governmental organizations, are helping more than 25 million Afghans who depend on humanitarian aid to survive, and remain committed to staying and delivering.
The most recent decrees issued by the de facto authorities banning women from working for NGOs has forced many partners to pause operations which can no longer be safely and meaningfully delivered. While the recent exemptions to the ban introduced by the de facto authorities are opening spaces for humanitarians to continue -- and in some cases resume -- operations, these remain limited to few sectors and activities.
"The effective delivery of humanitarian assistance is predicated on principles that require full, safe and unhindered access for all aid workers, including women," Mohammed said.
The visit to Afghanistan followed a series of high-level consultations on Afghanistan across the Gulf and Asia. The delegation met with the leadership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic Development Bank, groups of Afghan women in Ankara and Islamabad and a group of Ambassadors and Special Envoys to Afghanistan based in Doha.
The delegation convened with government leaders from the region and religious leaders to advocate the crucial role and full participation of women and rally support for the Afghan people. (ANI)