While the UN is trying to mobilize a record $ 4.4 billion in humanitarian aid to deal with a serious humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s decision to close secondary and high schools for Afghan women runs the risk of prevent the granting of international aid.
Afghanistan deprived of donations? The consequences of the Taliban’s brutal decision to ban high school girls are beginning to be felt. The World Bank announced on Wednesday, March 30, the suspension of four projects worth about $ 600 million (540.9 million euros).
These projects were ready to be implemented by United Nations agencies to support initiatives in the education, health and agriculture sectors, as well as community livelihoods. Not to mention the sudden investment by the Taliban, which last week overturned its decision to allow girls to study in high school, just hours after the long-awaited reopening. A turnaround that provoked a wave of outrage in the world and among Afghan women.
This great setback now runs the risk of jeopardizing not only the international recognition of the regime of these fundamentalist Islamists, but above all the billions of euros of international aid planned to lift Afghanistan out of a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. .
For good reason, the international community has made the right to education for all a condition for the granting of this aid. Before the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had also expressed reservations about the allocation of promised aid to Afghanistan following the overthrow of the new owners in Kabul. The aid of the international community could be used in other humanitarian crises in the world if the Taliban delays the reopening of girls’ high schools and high schools in Afghanistan, UNDP chief Achim Steiner warned in a statement. visit Kabul on Monday. .
However, time is running out. Since the Taliban came to power and the end of international funding, which accounted for 75% of Afghanistan’s budget, the country has been plunged into a deep crisis that worsens an already disastrous humanitarian situation after four decades of conflict and drought. recent. According to the United Nations, some 23 million Afghans are now starving and 95% of the country’s population does not have enough to eat, while 10 million children are in urgent need of survival.
“One million severely malnourished children are on the verge of death,” warned UN chief Antonio Guterres, who is trying to mobilize a record $ 4.4 billion (3.9 billion euros) in humanitarian aid, while condemning the Taliban’s ban on Afghan women. . A donors’ conference, co-organized on Thursday (March 31st) by the UN, the United Kingdom, Germany and Qatar, aimed to bring together this call for funds, the largest ever committed to a single country. But so far, only 13% of the required amount has been committed.
“They will never make concessions”
“Donors may be less generous, but every dollar counts to save lives,” laments Heather Barr, acting co-director of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) women’s rights division. United in Islamabad by France 24, she said she was pessimistic about reopening girls’ schools in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Ministry of Education, which did not give a clear explanation to justify the closure of the high school for girls, had mentioned “some unresolved practical issues before the deadline for opening.” A statement suggesting that a compromise on the adoption of a uniform for young Afghan women would be possible, a dress that would be aimed primarily at covering one’s face on the way to school.
“The Taliban took power in August 2021, and in seven months they still haven’t found a solution?” Heather Barr ironically. “I don’t think so. They’ll never make concessions. They’ll hang this and they’ll never do it, like 25 years ago.”
Denouncing the increase in attacks on women’s rights, HRW believes that the Taliban “seem to have stopped pretending to appease donors in the hopes of gaining help and recognition.” The NGO recalls other restrictions announced in the days following the closure of girls’ schools, such as a ban on women traveling by plane without a male member of their family, or a four-day ban on attending Kabul parks. per week.
Taliban divided on women’s freedoms
“The Taliban are still divided into factions. Power struggles between these groups played into these last-minute upheavals against Afghan women,” says Heather Barr.
“Some Taliban were educated outside Afghanistan, spent some time in Pakistan or elsewhere. In particular in Qatar, where they could see that Islam was promoting the education of women while enforcing dress codes. strict for these, “Afzal Ashraf told France 24. Professor of International Relations and Security at Loughborough University. “But most have a more traditional approach. They want women to stay home. To educate girls with a constant desire to change the beliefs and customs of their people.”
The researcher also argues that among the Taliban, leadership is not central. Likewise, the political weight of the different factions changes according to the alliances. “His influence is proportional to military power. It is based on the number of men following a Taliban leader rather than for religious reasons.” A complexity that no doubt explains the repeated flip-flops and political vagueness since the Taliban came to power.
“Don’t punish all Afghans”
For many observers of Afghan society, the West should not expect commitments from Kabul teachers on education and should not link humanitarian aid to the uncertain policies of the new Afghan executive, as long as the urgency is another. “Shouldn’t we save the lives of women before we worry about their education? Without this help, Afghan women and their babies will die. The question of the education of young Afghan women will no longer be raised. they will go hungry, ”he says. Afzal Ashraf.
“Don’t punish all Afghans for Taliban abuse,” HRW implores. “Afghanistan is suffering from a humanitarian crisis largely due to donor decisions, especially from the United States. Taliban abuse should not hamper donor efforts to curb the humanitarian crisis and unblock the Afghan economy.”