The UN”s humanitarian chief says a top Taliban leader pledged to let aid workers operate safely and independently and reach the millions of Afghans in need. Now, the UN is aiming to get the promises in writing and put them into action.
In a video news briefing Tuesday, Martin Griffiths said a key humanitarian priority is getting safe and dependable access to the Kabul airport and road routes from neighbouring countries.
Griffiths met over the weekend with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a longtime Taliban leader. He was named Tuesday to a Cabinet post in their interim government.
Griffiths said he also broached women”s rights with Baradar and his advisers and was heard out, but the topic “needs further work.”
The Taliban have said they will rule inclusively and more moderately than they did from 1996 to 2001, but many Afghans, especially women, are deeply skeptical. Taliban special forces shut down a women”s rights protest march in Kabul on Saturday by firing guns into the air.
Griffiths says the Taliban leaders appear more willing to engage with the international community than they were in the 1990s, when he also discussed humanitarian work with the Islamic militants.
But he says the challenge is “the process of the next many months, when the people of Afghanistan will be learning to live with their new rulers, and so will we.”
The UN was already striving to provide humanitarian aid to an estimated 18 million needy Afghans before the Taliban took over the drought-stricken country last month.