UN's top woman envoy in Afghanistan for talks on Taliban crackdown

© Mike Segar, Reuters

Senior UN officials have arrived in Kabul for talks as the United Nations chief voiced concern over the Taliban's creation of "gender-based apartheid," a UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Since returning to power 17 months ago, the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on women, keeping them out of government jobs, banning them from secondary schools and universities, and prohibiting them from visiting parks.

The UN delegation, which arrived Monday, includes Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Sima Bahous, executive secretary of UN Women, spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Also attending is Khaled Khiari, a senior official of the UN Department of Political Affairs, Haq said, declining to give further details of the visit citing security reasons.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the "unprecedented, systemic attacks on women's and girls' rights," which he said "are creating gender-based apartheid."

Before arriving in Afghanistan, the delegation held talks in several countries in the region, the Gulf, Asia and Europe to discuss women's and girls' rights and sustainable development.

The UN officials were urged to convey "the urgency of the situation," the spokesperson said, noting a "clear consensus... on the issue of women's and girls' rights to work and have access to education."

In late December, the Taliban banned NGOs working with Afghan women, leading several organizations to suspend their activities.


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