UNHCR chief says ‘space for discussion’ with Taliban over human rights

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan September 17, 2021. REUTERS-Waseem Khan

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said on Friday he found that the Taliban have space for discussion and engagement on human rights issues, including women and minorities rights.

“There is space for discussion and engagement about these matters,” Grandi told reporters in a news conference in Islamabad after he concluded his visit to Afghanistan, saying he took up the issues with various Taliban authorities.

“I am encouraged by that,” he added.

With growing reports of human and civil rights violations, various groups and countries have urged international bodies to engage with the Taliban.

Grandi also called on the international community to continue engaging with the Taliban “to save Afghanistan from disaster, and to save the region from instability.”

Since the Taliban took over on Aug. 15, several street protests led by women have been broken up. People have been detained and beaten. The Taliban have promised to investigate the incidents.

When they were last in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed a strict version of Islamic law and punished people with public floggings, amputations and executions.

Women’s activities such as work and education were severely restricted.

Since retaking power, the Taliban have tried to convey conciliatory statements, but for many people, the future remains uncertain.

“Will they allow women to work? Will they allow girls to go to school? How will they treat minorities?” Grandi said, adding these are the questions, which are among the concerns of the global community.

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