Closing of girls’ schools ‘discriminatory’: UNAMA


Speaking to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), the deputy special envoy of the UN for Afghanistan, Mette Knudsen, called the decision over the ban of girls’ schools “discriminatory,” saying that its impact will deeply affect the future generation in “terms of literacy and numeracy and will contribute to the cycle of poverty.”

Last month, female students above grade six were not allowed to attend their schools based on the decision made by the Islamic Emirate’s leadership.

The closing of schools faced a widespread reaction inside and outside of Afghanistan.

“The recent UN pledging conference addressing the Afghanistan humanitarian crisis resulted in pledges of more than 2 million dollars for humanitarian assistance, which is quite a commitment considering the current global situation,” Knudsen said.

A number of Afghan Islamic clerics based in Pakistan issued a statement calling on the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools for girls above grade six under an Islamic structure.

This comes as some of the female teachers held gatherings in hidden places, where they protested the closure of school for girls.

“If the situation keeps going like this, it will undoubtedly drive the country toward crisis,” said Zuhra, a teacher.

“We once again call on the Islamic Emirate to immediately reopen the schools for girls,” said Naveeda Khurasani, a women’s rights activist.

The Islamic Emirate’s decision to ban girls from schools has been facing severe criticism around the world.

The UN Security Council on Thursday extended the mandate of UNAMA for a period of 12 months.

“It is a good step. We call for good engagement and effective cooperation in the coming year,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

The resolution was confiirmed by 14 votes, with Russia abstaining.

“The resolution sends a clear message that this council stands firmly behind the UN’s continuous support to the Afghan people as they face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty. The resolution ensures that UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) has a strong and robust mandate to promote inclusive political dialogue, monitor and report on human rights, and continue to facilitate humanitarian and basic human needs assistance. And to engage with all Afghan actors, and that includes the Taliban on all these issues,” said Mona Juul, Norway’s permanent representative to the UN.

The UK permanent ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, said the renewal of UNAMA’s mandate at the current moment was important for Afghanistan.

“Today, the council spoke with one voice in support of a robust UN mission in Afghanistan: to lead and coordinate urgent humanitarian efforts, to support the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to hold the Taliban accountable on its commitments. It’s disappointing that one council member decided to abstain just when UNAMA’s work is more important than ever,” Woodward said.

Analysts believe that UNAMA can play a beneficial role to connect Afghanistan with the world. UNAMA can play “a role as connector between the current government, Afghanistan and the world,” said Naseer Ahmad Haidarzai, an international relations analyst.—Reuters

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