UN aid chief raises women’s rights concerns in meetings with Taliban

The United Nations aid chief visited Kabul on Monday and raised concerns over women’s education and work with the Taliban administration’s acting minister of foreign affairs, a statement by the Taliban’s deputy prime minister’s office said.

Taliban last month ordered non-governmental organizations to avoid most female employees to work, prompting many aid agencies to partially suspend operations in the midst of a humanitarian crisis in the country.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths raised the issue of women’s education and work and how this affected the UN’s operations, the statement said.

Speaking generally about Griffiths’ visit to Afghanistan, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Griffiths would engage the Taliban administration “with the same message that we’ve been delivering since the beginning on the need to roll back the policies that were put in place” on women.

He said Griffiths would “underscore the message that humanitarian aid cannot be delivered without women.”

Griffiths’s trip follows a visit to Afghanistan last week by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who expressed alarm to Taliban officials in Kabul and in the southern city of Kandahar over the administration’s orders restricting women from work and education.

The UN official met with Taliban deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi and Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Hanafi’s office said in a statement that the UN official said the organization has appealed for $4.6 billion for Afghanistan for this year, a fund that will reach 28 million people countrywide.

Women’s rights were part of the agenda in the UN delegation office in Kabul which was accompanied by the CARE chief and head of Save the Children.

No country has formally recognized the Taliban administration since it seized power, with some diplomats saying it must change course on women’s rights. Many countries have expressed major concerns over the Taliban’s ban on women and girls’ education in Afghanistan.