The Taliban has promised aid workers will be able to work independently of its government, despite the militants’ totalitarian rule.
The terror group has even written to the UN vowing to offer freedom of movement and safe passage for humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, according to UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths.
Griffiths also revealed that the militants promised to even allow women to work as aid employees, seemingly going against the Taliban’s misogynistic regime.
Afghan deputy prime minister Mullah Baradar gave the assurances last week in Kabul. The commitments are now expected to act as a major test for the Taliban to judge their future actions by.
Why is this important?
A third of Afghanistan’s population is in poverty, with an estimated 18 million people in need.
The nation is on the cusp of economic collapse and reliant on humanitarian aid from the United Nations and western countries to stay afloat.
As US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, explained: “Aid agencies cannot do their job unless the Taliban uphold their promises. All aid operations need to be independently monitored, reported upon and be secure.”
UN’s World Food Programme’s Anthea Webb said: “It’s now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most.”
The US has confirmed it will be sending $64 million (£46 million) in aid, while Germany will be sending €500 million (£527 million), France an extra €100 million (£85 million) and the UK will send £286 million.
Does the promise mean anything?
Just one month into the Taliban’s new era, the terror group has already retreated from the promises it made to be a more moderate force – which does not raise much hope that aid workers will be treated with respect.
Reports on the ground suggest there’s a large gap between the ideology adopted by the prominent government figures and the actions of the Taliban fighters on the ground.
The Taliban promised that it was now a more moderate force and was willing to let the media operate independently.
Only last week, journalists revealed they had received intense beatings for recording Afghan protests against the Taliban. The militants also introduced a ban on any unauthorised protests.
Similarly, the militants vowed to respect women’s rights to a greater extent than they did when they were last in power, back in the 1990s.
Already the Taliban has retreated from such commitments by including no women in their interim government. Some women fear they are now being followed by Taliban fighters after taking part in protests.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.