More Americans are leaving Kabul; UN says political stability is needed in Afghanistan – The New Indian Express

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Through PTI

KABUL: Qatar Airways flight on Friday brought more Americans out of Afghanistan, Washington peace envoy says third such airlift by Middle East carrier since Taliban takeover and the rampant withdrawal of US troops from the country.

This development took place amid growing concerns about the future of Afghanistan under the Taliban.

The country’s new Islamic rulers on Friday ordered that boys but not girls in grades 6-12, and male teachers but no female teachers, return to school and resume classes, starting on Saturday.

The statement, posted on the now Taliban-led Education Ministry’s Facebook page, underscored fears the Taliban could once again impose restrictions on girls and women.

Since coming to power, the Taliban have allowed girls in grades one to six to return to school.

When they ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the Taliban prohibited girls and women from going to school and working.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted that he was “grateful that more Americans were able to take a Qatar Airways flight”.

There was no immediate information on the number of Americans on the flight.

An Afghan official said more than 150 passengers were on the flight, although the number of Americans was not immediately clear.

In the past week, more than 300 foreign nationals as well as US green card holders and Afghans with special visas have left Afghanistan.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He said more flights were expected on Saturday, including another Qatar Airways flight.

It is not known how many US nationals are still in Afghanistan, but Khalilzad tweeted “we remain determined to get them out if they want to return home”.

US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter confirmed the plane took off from Kabul on Friday and told reporters authorities are still trying to determine how many Americans, green card or visa holders immigrant specials for Afghans were on the flight to Doha, the Qatari capital. .

Qatar Airways’ first flight from Kabul with the cooperation of the Taliban was on September 9, the first of its kind since the withdrawal of US forces on August 30.

There have been several chartered flights since, including by Pakistan International Airlines, to airlift foreigners and Afghans desperate to leave and fearful of the Taliban, and a few commercial flights from Kabul International Airport.

Porter said that in total, “between charter flights and land crossings, a total of 36 US citizens” have left Afghanistan since the US troop withdrawal.

Taliban’s order for boys and male teachers to return to middle and high schools went against earlier promises by the new Afghan leaders to ensure girls’ equal access to education and reverted to their harsh past. .

Since taking power, the Taliban have only allowed women to return to work in the health care sector and as teachers in grades 1 to 5.

At a press conference last week, Taliban Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani said classes would be gender segregated but girls would have the same access to education as boys.

Earlier this month, the Taliban declared their interim government all-male, devoid of any women or members of the country’s minorities.

The 33-member cabinet is made up of hard-line veterans of the 1990s Taliban and the 20-year battle against the US-led coalition.

This is unlikely to give the Taliban the international support they desperately need to avoid an economic collapse.

The UN refugee agency says Afghans displaced by war and the Taliban takeover are in urgent need of medicine, shelter and other essentials before winter begins.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, urged the international community not only to donate money but also to accept Afghan refugees.

He spoke at a press conference in Islamabad on Friday.

“Giving money is one thing, but also taking some of the refugees is important,” said Grandi and appealed to all countries “which have the possibility to do so – to continue resettling the refugees”.

He stressed that shelter, food, medicine and other basic necessities should be organized for displaced Afghans because winter is approaching.

He thanked Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees during the past four decades of conflict and for facilitating recent humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

The UN refugee agency says more than 3.5 million Afghans have been displaced from their homes by the conflict and remain inside the country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that the disturbing developments in Afghanistan were causing “profound political, economic, security and humanitarian challenges”, hoping that the international community could respond to the “rapidly evolving and unpredictable situation. “.

“You are meeting at a pivotal moment,” Guterres said in a video message to the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State Summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

“The disturbing developments in Afghanistan pose profound political, economic, security and humanitarian challenges. The situation is changing rapidly and is unpredictable, ”he said.

The UN chief told SCO leaders that it is clear that the Afghan people want extreme poverty to be eradicated, jobs to be available, health and education services to be restored, and that their lives and their fundamental rights and freedoms are protected.

“They want their country to be free from insecurity and terror. The United Nations is committed to helping the Afghan people,” Guterres said.

Senior UN officials continue to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan as they focus on continuing humanitarian assistance in the country.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Deborah Lyons and the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security of the Department of Safety and security (DSS) Gilles Michaud met with the Afghan Minister of the Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani “insisting on the absolute necessity for all United Nations and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to provide vital aid and carry out works for the Afghan people ”.

UNAMA said in a tweet that the meeting also addressed the requirement of mutual trust in collective efforts to improve the difficult situation in Afghanistan, “including restarting the economy, ensuring that officials and health workers are paid, as well as medicine and food reaching those who need it most. “

The two UN officials also met with Taliban government intelligence chief Abdulhaq Wasiq on Thursday “about the safety of UN personnel, the threat posed by Islamic State and the importance of humanitarian aid for Afghans who need help “.

Regarding the meetings with Haqqani and Wasiq, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general, told reporters on Thursday “these are continuous dialogues that we have with Afghan” with the Taliban in Kabul.

“These are ongoing dialogues with the Taliban that we are conducting in Kabul to ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to flow independently and impartially, to also underline the need to respect human rights, including including, of course, the rights of women and girls, to ensure the safety of UN staff, to talk about access issues. It’s an ongoing discussion, ”he said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is currently in Pakistan, speaking with government officials and reviewing the response to refugees in Pakistan.

Grandi has just completed a three-day visit to Afghanistan, and during his visit to Kabul he met the interim Afghan government, as well as some of the hundreds of UN and NGO (non-governmental organization) staff who are who remained in the field to maintain and deliver humanitarian aid.

In his remarks at the SCO summit, Guterres said UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths recently visited Afghanistan and the UN has made a flash appeal for immediate humanitarian response needs and organized a high-level event in Geneva to support this effort.

“We look forward to working with all of you to support the Afghan people,” he said, adding that at all levels, solidarity is needed more than ever.

“Transnational threats, such as the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, require coordinated and creative solutions,” he said, adding that the work of regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is essential to address common challenges and ensure a fair recovery. .

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the complete withdrawal of US troops on August 31 after a costly two-decade war.

This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the United Arab Emirates.

Taliban insurgents stormed Afghanistan and captured every major city within days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the United States and its allies melted away.

Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners fled the country to escape the new Taliban regime and seek asylum in various countries, including the United States and many European countries, resulting in utter chaos and deaths.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the SCO summit via video link and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar attended the meeting of the eight-member bloc comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

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