Monday, August 8, 2022

Afghan talks on women’s rights, aid as hunger rises

OSLO, Norway ( Associated Press) – The difficulty of getting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, where half the population needs it, topped the agenda in Norway on Tuesday, the final day of talks involving Western diplomats, aid groups and the Taliban.

The closed-door meetings at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the Norwegian capital Oslo are a crucial time for Afghanistan. As freezing temperatures add to the misery of the economic spiral that came with the fall of the US-backed government and the takeover of the Taliban last summer.

Aid groups and international agencies estimate that around 23 million people, more than half the country, face severe hunger and that about 9 million are on the verge of starvation. People have resorted to selling items to buy food, burn furniture for summer, and even sell to their children.

The Taliban are demanding the release of $10 billion frozen by the United States and other Western countries, but no agreement has yet been reached. The UN has managed to provide some liquidity and allow the Taliban administration to pay for imports, including electricity.

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“The number 1 problem now is that Western sanctions are creating a liquidity crisis, which means we cannot get funding to aid the country,” said Jan Egland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs humanitarian organizations. is one of. Negotiation.

“We can’t save lives the way we should. That’s why the West and the Taliban need to talk. And we need to end sanctions that hurt civilians,” he said.

But before they agree to an easing of sanctions, Western powers are calling for increased rights for Afghan women and girls, as well as power sharing by the Taliban administration with Afghanistan’s minority ethnic and religious groups. The West is being demanded time and again.

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The new Afghan rulers told The Associated Press last week that they aim to open schools for girls and women At the end of March, after the Afghan New Year. According to Egland, he reiterated that promise in Oslo, meeting with a Taliban delegation led by Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki.

The first three days of talks in Europe since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August began on Sunday with talks between the Taliban and members of Afghan civil society. The next day they held multilateral talks involving Western diplomats from the European Union, the US, Britain, France, Italy and host Norway.

Tuesday’s talks were bilateral, involving all parties, including independent humanitarian organizations.

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