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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

US envoy ‘concerned’ over human rights violations in Afghanistan

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A recent report by Human Rights Watch [HRW] revealed that the Taliban has forcibly disappeared former Afghan officials.

US envoy to Afghanistan Tom West expressed his “deep concern” about retaliatory killings and forced disappearances of former ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] during a new round of talks with the Taliban in Doha on Tuesday.

The concerns were raised following the release of a HRW report titled “‘No Forgiveness for People Like You,’ Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban“.

The report documented the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the ANSF, despite promises of amnesty made by the Taliban in August to those affiliated with the previous administration and rights workers.

“We have urged the Taliban to ensure their promise of amnesty is upheld throughout their ranks and hold those responsible to account,” tweeted West following two-day talks in the Gulf state, which ended on 30 November.

West led Washington’s delegation in Doha during the latest round of meetings with the interim Afghan government—the second such talks to take place since the troop withdrawal from Kabul on 31 August.

The delegation included representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Treasury, USAID, and the intelligence community.

US launches talks with Taliban in Doha as Kabul seeks EU assistance

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said his country’s representatives stressed the importance of “the Taliban fulfilling its public commitment not to allow anyone to pose a threat to any country from the soil of Afghanistan” while ensuring a safe passage for American citizens and Afghans.

“Special Representative West welcomed the Taliban’s follow-through on safe passage commitments and recognized improvements in providing all humanitarian workers safe and unimpeded access to communities in need,” added Price.

The protection of women, girls and minorities was also on the agenda, in addition to the safe release of American hostage Mark Frerichs, an American Civil Engineer who was kidnapped by the Haqqani network in January 2020.

In response to Washington’s concern over the presence of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan, the Taliban reiterated its commitment to not allowing the country to become a safe haven for terrorism.

Furthermore, the release of frozen Afghan assets was among the points of discussion, given its impact on the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan delegation assured the US side of security and urged that Afghanistan’s frozen money should be released unconditionally, blacklists and sanctions must end and human issues be separated from political ones,” said Afghan foreign ministry spokesman, Abdul Qahar Balkhi.

The US contributed to the situation by freezing up to $10 billion of Afghanistan’s reserves when the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August, while the International Monetary Fund [IMF] also halted funds to the country.

Commenting on aid, the US delegation “pledged to continue to support UN and humanitarian actors’ efforts” to alleviate the suffering of Afghans while saying that it remains “committed to ensuring” that sanctions do not hinder the delivery of much-needed assistance.

“The Department of the Treasury has issued general licenses to support the continued flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support basic human needs,” said Price.

The interim Afghan administration has been expressing its willingness to establish ties with the US despite 20 years of fighting.

The Taliban-led caretaker government has also been engaging with Western powers in bid to address the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The United Nations had warned in October this year that at least 22 million Afghans, more than half of the country, are at risk of facing “acute” hunger during the harsh winter season.

This is the result of drought caused by global warming, a worsening economic crisis and years of war.

The World Bank is now working on a compromise, which it struck with the UN and US, to deliver $500 million in frozen aid to humanitarian agencies, as sources told Reuters on Monday.


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