UNSC to convene meeting on Afghanistan

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to hold a meeting on Afghanistan on Friday, a spokesman for the UAE mission at the UN, Shahad Matar, said on Wednesday, adding that it has been requested by the United Arab Emirates, Japan and France.

Matar said in a tweet that the meeting will be held behind closed doors for a brief from UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed about her recent trip to Afghanistan, “including her engagements, the messages she relayed, and her candid assessment of the situation.”

“A closed meeting is the most effective and appropriate format for the Council to hear from the DSG, given the sensitive nature of the visit and the fluid situation on the ground,” she said.

The meeting comes after Mohammed visited Afghanistan this month and met with Taliban leaders in Kabul and Kandahar. The meetings did not however lead to the removal of bans by the group on women in the country.

In addition, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths also visited Afghanistan this week and met with Taliban leaders, including Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Griffiths said the humanitarian community is speaking with Taliban officials to try to secure further exemptions and written guidelines for female aid workers to return to work despite the current ban.

Speaking to Reuters, he said that during discussions with Taliban officials in Kabul over the last few days, his message was “if you can’t help us rescind the ban, give us the exemptions to allow women to operate.”

Taliban officials last month banned women from working in non-governmental organizations, a decision that triggered global reactions and led to the suspension of the activities of a number of aid agencies in Afghanistan.

He also said that six million people were “knocking on famine’s door” during Afghanistan’s coldest winter in 15 years.

“The Afghan winter makes everything a lot more difficult and we’re very conscious, the season and the timing and as you say, we see some of the consequences in loss of life,” Griffiths said in an interview with Reuters.