UN deputy rights chief updates council on Afghanistan humanitarian crisis
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UN deputy rights chief updates council on Afghanistan humanitarian crisis

UN Deputy High Commissioner for human rights Nada Al-Nashif delivered an oral update on the human rights situation in Afghanistan on Tuesday. She briefed the Human Rights Council in Geneva on how the humanitarian crisis has worsened in Afghanistan since the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in August of this year.

Al-Nashif reported the highest number of civilian casualties, with women and children representing almost half of them, had already been recorded this year before the Taliban takeover. Since August civilian harm has lessened but nevertheless the risk remains due to the lethal attacks being carried out by armed groups like the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISL-KP).

The deputy commissioner also commented on the alarming rise in reports of extra-judicial killings across the country, despite the general amnesty announced by the Taliban after August 15. Those associated with the former government, former members of the Afghan national security forces and ISL-KP suspects are still being targeted. Public displays of corpses have also been reported in several of these cases.

According to the Al-Nashif, women and girls in Afghanistan face great uncertainty with respect to their education, employment and participation in public life. People in vulnerable conditions, especially women-led households and children, may be left with no option but to take desperate measures, including child labor, the marriage of children to ensure their survival and even the sale of children according to some reports. The Taliban’s decree on women’s rights earlier this month signaled positive changes in te country, but many questions still remain unanswered. For example, there is still no clarity on the minimum age for marriage, and women are still restricted on what they can wear and their movement,  working and education. Al-Nashif also noted that women’s shelters have been closed and most incidents of violence and harmful practices against girls and women go unreported or left unresolved.

The Deputy High Commissioner also noted that the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association has lost its independence because of the group’s decision to operate under the ministry of justice. The safety of judges and lawyers, especially women legal professionals, is also a matter of great concern, according to the UN Human Rights office.

Al-Nashif called upon the Taliban and the international community to address the present economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, stating that such action will “mark the difference between potential lives of dignity and well-being – or accelerating deprivation, injustice and tragic loss of life.”