Western diplomats said Thursday that they will expand their aid operations in Afghanistan, continuing to pressure the Taliban rulers to respect human rights and allow girls to go to school.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council Wednesday that Afghanistan was “hanging by a thread” and urged countries to issue permits that allow for all financial transactions necessary for humanitarian activities.
About $ 9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s central bank reserves are still frozen overseas as international development support is in deadlock since the Taliban took control of the country last August.
With millions of people in Afghanistan at risk of starvation this winter due to worsening poverty, Norway has hosted meetings between US and European Taliban officials and diplomats, as well as humanitarian organizations and Afghan civil society groups.
Western diplomats said in a declaration in 10 points that their governments were “working to expand relief and assistance operations to prevent the collapse of social services and support the recovery of the Afghan economy”.
The statement does not provide details on funding, but states that obstacles to aid delivery must be removed.
The statement added that diplomats “have noted with great concern the restrictions on girls and their absence from secondary schools in many parts of the country and stressed the importance of higher education for women as well as providing them with employment opportunities in all fields “.
They welcomed the Taliban’s public commitment that all women and girls be able to enter schools at all levels when schools reopen in the country next March.
Diplomats urged the Taliban to “do more to stem the alarming increase in human rights violations”, including arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, restrictions on media, extrajudicial executions and torture.
Norway and its NATO allies do not recognize the Taliban-led government that took power last year, but consider the talks necessary given the depth of the crisis.
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