The UN Secretary-General called on the Taliban to halt their offensive in Afghanistan, where he said the situation was “spinning out of control.” Speaking to reporters from the UN Headquarters in New York, António Guterres said Friday it was “particularly horrifying and heartbreaking to see reports of the hard-won rights of Afghan girls and women being ripped away from them.”
The UN says Afghan women and children make up the majority of those displaced in recent months, with nonprofit groups left grappling with how to help the women and girls left in the country.
Masuda Sultan, a board member of Women for Afghan Women, the largest women’s rights organization in Afghanistan, told CNN Saturday that “it’s a very scary time” for civilians but the Taliban was allowing women in some areas to work.
She said there is rapid change “but we’re being told that international NGOs can function, that women can work.”
She adds: “The Taliban have told us this. They have had meetings in Sar-e Pol and in Kunduz, with folks that we know on the ground and have told us that we can continue our operations. And so, we really are hopeful that we can continue our work, and that the transition in some of these places will be smoother than expected.”
Sar-e Pol and Kunduz are among the 18 territories which the Taliban has seized control of in recent days.
Sultan says that while there are many trying to leave the country, there are still around 20 million women and girls left in Afghanistan that her organization hopes to continue to serve within the Islamic rules and Afghan culture.
“We need to continue to press the Taliban on this issue. the international community should absolutely make women the focus of aid, and girls’ education, the focus of the programs,” Sultan said, adding that with the troop withdrawal there has been a noticeable drop in aid to the country.
She continued: “We need to think about ways in which we can stay engaged with the Afghan people, that we don’t abandon them in their moment of need. That we haven’t spent 20 years building a country that is starving and desperate for a way out. That we keep people in Afghanistan because the best way to avoid what these countries around the world don’t want is more refugees, is to make Afghanistan safe and a livable country for the 40 million people that are there.”