Criticism is levelled over a photo of UN personnel holding a Taliban flag

The UN has apologised for a “serious lack of judgement” after pictures of some of its employees in front of a Taliban flag in Afghanistan during Under-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s visit to the nation this week surfaced. She spoke with the country’s official authorities while in a battle area and voiced her concern about women’s rights abuses.

Ms. Mohammed, the highest-ranking woman in the UN, along with Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, and Khaled Khiari, the under-secretary-general of the department of political affairs, reconciliation, and peaceful operations, finished a four-day trip to Afghanistan on Friday.

The group discussed recent limits on women and girls’ access to school and employment during meetings with Taliban commanders in Kabul and Kandahar.

However, images of several UN security troops standing in front of the Taliban flag generated criticism while Ms. Mohammed was speaking with the group’s leaders.

Ms. Mohammed, who was in charge of the UN high-level committee on behalf of the Secretary-General, voiced concern regarding the Taliban’s controversial ruling to forbid women from working for international and national non-governmental organisations. The UN claims that this decision jeopardises the efforts of numerous organisations that assist millions of individuals.

The Taliban have ordered all institutions in the nation to close to female students until further notification, ban girls from high school, restrict women’s and girls’ freedom of movement, exclude women from the majority of work markets, and forbid women from utilising parks, gyms, and public restrooms.

According to the UN, several partners have been forced to halt operations since they can no longer be done in a secure and effective manner as a result of the Taliban’s most recent decrees banning women from working for NGOs.

Following a series of high-level discussions on Afghanistan across the Gulf and Asia, senior UN leaders paid a visit to Afghanistan. The mission met with representatives of the Islamic Development Bank, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Afghan women’s organisations in Ankara and Islamabad, and a group of diplomats and special envoys to Afghanistan stationed in Doha.

They urged more action in response to the crisis’ urgency and emphasised the significance of a coordinated response from the global community. All remained steadfast on essential ideas, such as the rights of women and girls to education, employment, and participation in public life in Afghanistan, and continuously emphasised the necessity for a rejuvenated and realistic political route.

There was broad agreement that the OICs and the country’s leadership on these matters were crucial. The idea of holding a summit meeting on women and girls in the Muslim world in March 2023 was also taken into consideration and, according to the statement, accepted in theory.

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