Sunday, May 29, 2022

US says closure of girls’ schools to significantly impact engagement with Taliban

Closure of girls’ schools in Afghanistan will hold significant and serious implications for US ability to engage with the Taliban, a diplomat in Washington says.

“we have continued to stand by the people of Afghanistan in terms of our humanitarian leadership and the contributions that we have made, including in recent days, to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, but also in terms of what we’re doing diplomatically on the world stage together with our allies and partners,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.

“March 23rd, what was supposed to be the first day of the school year for school children, including girls across the country, turned into a day of horrible disappointment and despair for millions of Afghans with the Taliban’s very regrettable decision not to allow girls to return to secondary school. This – in doing so, the Taliban reversed commitments that they had made very publicly and commitments that we had discussed with them privately as well,” he added.

“Their decision, as I mentioned before, it was a deeply disappointing one. It was, in some ways, an inexplicable reversal of the commitments that they had made to their own people. We’ve made the point previously that education is not only a human right, but it is indispensable to the success of any particular country. Holding back more than half of any country’s population is not a recipe for success for Afghanistan or anywhere else around the world. No country can succeed economically, no country can succeed politically, no country can succeed on any basis when half of its population or more than half of its population is unable to go to school, ultimately unable to join the – join a workforce,” he continued.

“Together with our partners in the international community, we have been working for some time and we continue to work to support education in Afghanistan, expecting that schools last month would have opened for all. We have called on the Taliban to overcome whatever impediments exist to implementing the commitments they’ve made, to honor the commitments they’ve made to their own people. Each day that Afghanistan’s secondary schools remain closed to girls is another missed day of school, another missed opportunity, not only for the girls of Afghanistan but for the people and the country of Afghanistan,” he said.

“The Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, Tom West, our Special Representative for Afghanistan, our Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri, our chargé d’affaires who is now based in Doha – they have all decried this decision on the part of the Taliban,” Price added.

“We have also done so in coordination with many of our close partners around the world. Shortly after the Taliban announced this decision, we released a joint statement with our counterparts in Canada, in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, the UK, and the high representative of the European Union, all condemning the decision on the part of the Taliban not to reopen secondary schools. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation similarly put out a statement, as well as female foreign ministers from 16, at least 16, countries around the world from Albania to Tonga and the UK,” the spokesman noted.

“This was a topic of discussion during the extended troika that Tom West attended late last month in Tunxi, China, and we have been very clear that if this decision is not reversed and if it’s not reversed promptly, it will hold significant, serious implications for our ability to engage with the Taliban and the Taliban’s desire to have better relations not only with the United States but with the international community,” the diplomat stressed.

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