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Home » UN Envoy Pressed to Prioritize Female Rights in Afghan Crisis Review

UN Envoy Pressed to Prioritize Female Rights in Afghan Crisis Review

by Abram Tsitsishvili
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A rights watchdog said Wednesday that human rights in Afghanistan, especially those of women and girls, should be at the center of a U.N. Security Council-mandated independent assessment of the global response to the country’s crisis.

Human Rights Watch said it had shared the recommendations with Feridun Sinirlioğlu, U.N. special coordinator leading the assessment, urging him to address the rights abuses of Afghans and hold accountable those responsible for the abuses, including the Taliban.

“The situation in Afghanistan right now is the most serious women’s rights crisis in the world,” said Heather Barr, associate director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. “The crisis in Afghanistan is overwhelming, and Taliban abuses are deepening what was already a devastating humanitarian crisis.”

Barr criticized the international response as inconsistent, ineffective and insufficiently focused on human rights, saying the independent U.N.-mandated assessment could guide a more effective answer to the “dire situation.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Sinirlioğlu as the special coordinator in April and asked the former senior Turkish government diplomat to provide recommendations for an “integrated and coherent approach among relevant political, humanitarian and development actors” to address the challenges faced by Afghanistan.

The move stemmed from a Security Council resolution in March asking the United Nations to conduct and provide the assessment to its members by Nov. 17.

The Taliban returned to power in Kabul in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO allies withdrew all their troops after 20 years of involvement in the Afghan war.

The fundamentalist authorities have since introduced their interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, to govern the conflict-ridden and impoverished South Asia nation. The Taliban have banned Afghan women and girls from an education beyond about a sixth-grade level and have barred them from most employment and visiting public places such as parks, gyms and bathhouses.

The Taliban have also barred Afghan women from working for international nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations, in a country where more than 28 million people need food aid. The ban forced the World Food Program to cut 8 million food-insecure Afghans from assistance.

On Tuesday, the hard-line authorities permanently closed all beauty salons across Afghanistan, leaving an estimated 60,000 women without work. Parlors were among the last significant sources of employment for women.

The international community has repeatedly criticized Taliban curbs on women and demanded their reversal.

The Taliban dismiss criticism of their rule, insisting that it is aligned with the Afghan culture and Shariah.

Sinirlioğlu met with Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi during his June visit to Kabul. A post-meeting Taliban statement quoted Muttaqi telling the U.N. coordinator that their government replaced violence with “peace and stability. Islamic rights of women are ensured … and all achievements in the areas of security have been without any foreign support.”

Human rights concerns and the treatment of Afghan women have prevented foreign governments from granting legitimacy to the Taliban as they mark their second anniversary in power next month.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department renewed its call for de facto Afghan authorities to review their policies.

“We have been incredibly clear, quite regularly condemning the clear backsliding that we’re seeing in Afghanistan, the egregious human rights abuses, the marginalization of women and girls,” Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson, told reporters in Washington.

Patel emphasized that “if the Taliban intends to seek international recognition, they need to start directly with the actions and the policies they choose to undertake in Afghanistan.”

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that the U.N. special coordinator should ensure that his team includes experts on human rights, including the rights of women and girls.

“Afghan women and girls and others suffering under Taliban repression feel abandoned by the world,” Barr said. “The independent assessment should both help restore global attention to the situation in Afghanistan and propose concrete tools for holding the Taliban and other rights violators accountable.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that Tom West, special representative for Afghanistan, and Rina Amiri, special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights, will travel to Kazakhstan and Qatar July 26-31. The delegation will meet with counterparts from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a special session on Afghanistan.

In Qatar’s capital, Doha, West and Amiri will meet with Taliban representatives and technocratic professionals from key Afghan ministries to discuss “critical interests” in Afghanistan, the statement said.

“Priority issues will include humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stabilization, fair and dignified treatment of all Afghans, including women and girls, security issues, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking.”

Source : VOA

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