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Guterres is looking for ways to pressure the Taliban to bring Afghan women back to work


Guterres called for the Doha talks to look for new ways to put pressure on the Taliban government after it banned Afghan women from working for UN agencies and NGOs.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday criticized the “unprecedented” restrictions imposed by the Taliban on the rights of Afghan women, highlighting international concerns about stability in the stricken country.

After a two-day meeting with the main forces involved in events in Afghanistan, Guterres did not indicate whether the ongoing review of UN operations would lead to its withdrawal from the country due to the ban on women working in aid agencies.

But he said, “To achieve our goals, we cannot disengage and many (during the meeting) called for work to be more effective.”

Guterres called for the Doha talks to look for new ways to put pressure on the Taliban government after it banned Afghan women from working for UN agencies and NGOs.

This has exacerbated the international outrage resulting from the almost total ban on Afghan women from secondary and university education and from practicing most government jobs.

The Taliban was not invited to the Doha talks.

“The participants are concerned about stability in Afghanistan and expressed these serious concerns,” added the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

It is scheduled to end the United Nations review of its mission in Afghanistan by Friday. The world body says it faces the “horrific choice” of leaving a country where millions of its citizens depend on food aid.

The two-day meeting, attended by envoys from the United States, Russia, China and 20 other countries and organizations, including European donors and neighboring countries such as Pakistan, also discussed concerns about terrorism and drug trafficking in the South Asian country.

“The current ban imposed on Afghan women working for the United Nations and national and international NGOs is unacceptable and puts lives at risk” because of the role they play in alleviating harsh conditions, Antonio Guterres told a press conference.

“We will never remain silent in the face of the systematic and unprecedented attacks on the rights of women and girls,” he added.

“Millions of women and girls are being silenced and hidden from view,” Guterres added, noting that the ban was a violation of “Afghanistan’s obligations under international law.”

“One step closer to famine-like conditions.”

The Taliban government has strongly deplored criticism of the restrictions imposed on women, describing it as an “internal social issue”. It also condemned its exclusion from the Doha talks.

The head of the representative office of the Taliban authorities in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said, “Any meeting without the participation of representatives of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the main party in the case – would be unproductive and sometimes counterproductive.”

“How can a decision taken at such meetings be accepted or implemented when we are not part of the process? It is discriminatory and unjustifiable,” he added.

Guterres expressed his unwillingness to meet with Taliban representatives, but did not rule out the possibility of that happening in the future.

No country has established formal relations with the Taliban government since its return to power in August 2021. “No country present has indicated that it is ready to establish any kind of relationship,” said one of the envoys who participated in the Doha talks.

The Doha meeting came amid mounting problems in the country of 38 million people, which is suffering from a worsening shortage of goods due to slowing international supplies.

In this regard, Guterres said, “It is difficult to overestimate the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan today.”

He asserted that six million people were “one step away from famine-like conditions”. A United Nations appeal for $4.6 billion for the relief operation raised just $294 million.

On a parallel line, Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki is heading a delegation to Islamabad at the end of the week for talks with Pakistani and Chinese officials, according to what the ministry announced on Tuesday.

Mottaki, who is subject to a United Nations travel ban, has previously been granted exceptions to travel to neighboring countries for talks.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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