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UN rights chief urges Security Council to protect Afghan women

Michelle Bachelet says denial of the fundamental rights of women and girls is massively damaging the Afghan economy



Women wearing a burqa receive free bread distributed as part of the Save Afghans From Hunger campaign in front of a bakery in Kabul. — AFP
Women wearing a burqa receive free bread distributed as part of the Save Afghans From Hunger campaign in front of a bakery in Kabul. — AFP

By AFP

Published: Tue 18 Jan 2022, 10:13 PM

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, urged the UN Security Council on Tuesday to hold “to account” rights abusers in Afghanistan, especially those targeting women and children.

“I ask all states to use their influence with the Taliban to encourage respect for fundamental human rights,” Bachelet told a special Security Council meeting organised by Norway focusing on violence against women.

She noted that “denial of the fundamental rights of women and girls is massively damaging” the Afghan economy, while the country is “facing a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions”.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August, “women human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and judges have been forced to flee or to go into hiding — often after repeated threats,” she explained.

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“I urge the Security Council to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Afghanistan — including against women and girls — are held to account,” said the former Chilean president.

“I further call on states to create safe pathways and resettlement programmes for Afghan women human rights defenders, and to immediately halt the deportation of Afghan women who seek protection.”

Bachelet further demanded the UN include a robust human rights component in its assistance programme in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA, which is slated to restart in mid-March.

Following her, the director of the NGO Woman and Children Legal Research Foundation, Zarqa Yaftali, proclaimed that it was time for the Security Council to break its silence on the millions of Afghans deprived of their rights.


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