Afghanistan is entering a new period of crisis, warns UN envoy

Deputy UN envoy for Afghanistan, Markus Potzel, has warned that Afghanistan is “entering a new period of crisis.” Meeting the Taliban’s education minister, Mullah Neda Mohammad Nadim, in Kabul on Saturday, Potzel “called for urgent lifting of the bans” on women’s rights to education and work.

On 20 Dec 2022, the Taliban issued an order banning women from universities. Widely condemned, but unnerved, the group issued another order on 22 Dec 2022 banning women from working for NGOs, forcing major international aid agencies suspend their operations in the Afghanistan. 

Taliban warns the West
Since their return to power in August 2021, the Taliban has placed heavy restrictions on women and girls. (REUTER/Stringer)

Despite international outrage, the Taliban leaders have refused to reverse their decisions. Mullah Neda Mohammad Nadim defended banning women from universities as “necessary to prevent gender mixing.” And the group’s senior spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that banning women from working as aid workers were necessary to “protect our women’s dignity and honour.”