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Afghans Face Devastating Humanitarian, Economic Crisis


FILE - An Afghan woman holding her child begs on the snow-covered pavement in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2022.

A report detailing troubling developments in Afghanistan since the takeover by the Taliban was submitted Monday to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The report finds hostilities and civilian casualties have sharply decreased since the Taliban took power in August. However, it also says the human rights situation for many Afghans has worsened. It says extrajudicial killings of members of the former government, including judges, lawyers and female legal professionals, continue apace.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, who presented the report, said people perceived by the Taliban to be a threat, including human rights defenders and media workers, have been killed, arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared.

She added that the Afghan people face a devastating humanitarian and economic crisis.

"Following the Taliban's takeover, international sanctions that previously applied to the Taliban effectively became sanctions on the country's de facto governing authorities. The resulting liquidity crisis contributed to a full-scale economic crash," Bachelet said.

FILE - A Taliban fighter checks a vehicle along a road in Kandahar, Feb. 28, 2022.
FILE - A Taliban fighter checks a vehicle along a road in Kandahar, Feb. 28, 2022.

Consequently, she said nearly 20 million people, half the Afghan population, suffer acute hunger, which has led to an increase in child labor, child marriage and the sale of children.

She said actions taken by de facto authorities have curtailed women's fundamental rights and freedoms.

"Since August 2021, women have largely been excluded from the workforce both as a result of the economic crisis and restrictions imposed by the de facto authorities," Bachelet said. "The closure of many women's protection shelters has left women at risk. Justice systems established to deal with cases of gender-based violence are largely nonfunctional."

Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva said his country faces a multitude of crises, and the protection of the Afghan people must remain a priority for the international community.

Nasir Ahmad Andisha is a holdover from the previous Afghan government, who continues to represent Afghanistan because the United Nations does not recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government.

In the past two decades, much progress was achieved on women's rights, on freedom of speech and assembly, and in the general improvement of human rights, according to Andisha.

"However, the abandonment of Afghanistan and the takeover of the country on the 15th of August by the Taliban has put Afghanistan on a downward trajectory of rapid reversal of rights and liberties," he said.

Andisha urged the Council to remain fast in its support of the Afghan people, who in the face of all challenges are committed to retaining the rights and freedoms they previously had achieved.

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