Monday, Jul 04, 2022
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UK Seeks Foreigners' Safety From Taliban At UN Human Rights Council Session

'The Taliban need to make a political decision to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. And they must understand that they will be held accountable if they do fail to do so/', said UK Minister for Human Rights Lord Tariq Ahmad

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Britain at an emergency United Nations Human Rights Council session on Tuesday requested the Taliban to allow the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals from Afghanistan. 

UK Minister for Human Rights, South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, during the virtually addressed session emphasized on the UK’s commitment to protect the human rights of the Afghan people amid the Taliban takeover of the country.

"We urge the Taliban to allow the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals, and those who wish to leave Afghanistan," said Lord Ahmad.

"The Taliban need to make a political decision to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. And they must understand that they will be held accountable if they do fail to do so. We also call for a coordinated and concerted effort from the international community to address the humanitarian emergency, which has been exacerbated by famine, COVID and internal displacement,” he said.

The special session, convened following an official request submitted jointly by Pakistan, Coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and Afghanistan, was aimed at addressing the "serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan". The focus of the UK statement was on the efforts of the past 20 years to promote human rights in Afghanistan.

"Over the last 20 years, the UK and our NATO allies have worked to promote human rights in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls," said Lord Ahmad.

"Twenty years ago almost no girls went to school, and women were banned from positions of governance. Now, 3.6 million Afghan girls are in school, and women hold over a quarter of the seats in Afghanistan’s parliament. Maternal mortality has almost halved, and infant mortality has decreased faster than in any low income country. These gains must not be reversed. The Taliban need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

Ahmad also spoke with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet and held discussions with key humanitarian partners – including leaders from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Organisation for Migration, the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Population Fund – to discuss the humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.

"The international community has a crucial role to play in holding the Taliban to account – their actions must match their words. And collectively, we must give the human rights situation our total and utter focus, sustained attention in future sessions,” the minister said.

The statement came as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired an emergency virtual meeting of G7 leaders to coordinate international response to the crisis in Afghanistan.

There are growing calls for an extension to the August 31 deadline for the US-led NATO troops to exit the country in order to facilitate evacuation efforts. However, in a latest press conference from the Afghan capital of Kabul the Taliban spokesperson ruled out any such extension.

“August 31 is the time given and after that it's something that is against the agreement," said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.

"All people should be removed prior to that date. After that we do not allow them, it will not be allowed in our country, we will take a different stance," he said.

Last week the UK supported a UN Security Council statement which called for all parties to allow immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for humanitarian agencies and actors providing assistance in Afghanistan. 

(With PTI Inputs)

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