Facilitating and advancing women and girls’ access to quality education is crucial for Afghanistan’s recovery and future development, stated António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his three-monthly report on the ground situation in Afghanistan.
He emphasised on the continuing restrictions on Afghan women and girls’ rights, stating that more restrictions will have lasting detrimental consequences for the recovery and stability of Afghanistan.
He urged the Taliban to review the mahram and Islamic hijab directives and to clarify their recommendatory, non-mandatory nature, so as to facilitate women and girls’ participation in education, employment and all other areas of daily life.
He stated that women reported an increase in the informal policing of women by families, communities and employers, who often acted out of fear of potential consequences for not adhering to gender-specific directives.
In his report, the UN Secretary General also stated his serious concern regarding the apparent impunity with which members of the Taliban continue to carry out extrajudicial killings, torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests and detentions of former government officials and former Afghan National Defence and Security Forces members, and individuals accused of affiliation with ISIL-K and the National Resistance Front. He called on the Taliban to uphold their public commitments regarding respect for human rights, in particular the general amnesty, and hold those responsible for human rights violations to account, while taking the necessary steps to prevent their reoccurrence.
The lack of mechanisms for inclusivity, consultation and representation in the de facto administration continues to raise concern, the report stated. “The current policy direction of the Taliban may sow the seeds of future instability, especially if the needs of the Afghan people are not addressed, their rights are curtailed, and the country’s diversity is not adequately reflected in governance structures,” it added.
The report also stressed that the security situation reveals a worrisome trend in recent months, particularly the series of attacks by ISIL-K, recurring armed opposition clashes with Taliban de facto security forces and the continuing presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan. It called on the Taliban leadership to engage in a serious counter-terrorism dialogue to strengthen international cooperation in countering these threats, while complying with obligations under international law.
Touching upon the topic of media freedom, he stated that the continued pressure placed by the Taliban on journalists and civil society activists is cause for alarm.
The report despite highlighting the human rights violations, also called on regional and international organisations, as well as the international community, to consider scaling up financial support to meet basic needs for the Afghan population such as for the provision of food, medical and clothing needs, educational and vocational training, and to support the deployment of health and education personnel in detention facilities.
Guterres said that the humanitarian response plan remains only 41.8 per cent funded, with a shortfall of some $2.59 billion, despite pledges of about $2.4 billion that were made in March and called upon donors to renew their support so that the life-saving response is scaled up and delivered ahead of the winter season.