Taliban foreign minister meeting the UN deputy chief, Amina Mohammed, in Kabul.

Deputy UN chief leaves Afghanistan empty handed

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, ended her four-day trip to Afghanistan without gaining concessions from the Taliban on lifting restrictions on women girls’ rights. Accompanied by the head of UN Women, Sima Bahous, the UN delegation met with senior Taliban officials in Kabul and Kandahar.

A statement on behalf of the delegation said that they called on the Taliban leaders to reverse course and “directly conveyed the alarm over the recent decree banning women from working for national and international non-governmental organizations, a move that undermines the work of numerous organizations helping millions of vulnerable Afghans.”

With Amina Mohammed adding that the restrictions imposed on women and girls “present Afghan women and girls with a future that confines them in their own homes, violating their rights and depriving the communities of their services”.

In Kabul, Amina Mohammed met senior Taliban leaders, including foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, and deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, who in turn scolded the UN for not cooperating with the group to gain international recognition, removing sanctions on their leaders and handing them Afghanistan’s UN seat.

The UN deputy chief also traveled to Kandahar, where the group’s supreme leader refused her request for a meeting. She was met by Kandahar’s deputy governor, Hayatullah Mubarak, who also demanded the group’s leaders to be removed from the UN’s sanctions and the Afghan seat in the UN be given to them.

Amina Mohammed visited Kandahar, but the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, refused her request for a meeting. She was met by Kandahar’s deputy governor.

The Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, also traveled to the wester province of Herat, from where she told the BBC that engagement with the Taliban was important in order to “explain the outcomes and the results of such edicts on women and on the socioeconomic development of this country.” Adding that some Taliban leaders had told them that “maybe, we shouldn’t be here without our mahram.”

The UN delegation said that it had proposed an international conference on women and girls in the Muslim World, which the Taliban had agreed with “in principle.”