Tag Archives: Afghanistan

MEPs: human rights in Afghanistan concerns

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the respect for human rights in Afghanistan, Belarus and Democratic Republic of Congo. (Image above: European Parliament building, Strasbourg)

Human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially the deterioration of women’s rights and attacks against educational institutions

The staggering regression in women and girls’ rights under the Taliban qualifies as gender apartheid, warn MEPs. They call on Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to ensure that women can again actively participate in public life. This must be a key condition, they say, if the international community is to engage with the Taliban. Denouncing the egregious ban on secondary education for girls, Parliament recalls the Taliban’s promises that women’s access to education would be restored and demands that the Taliban now honour their own commitments.)

Parliament deeply regrets that, since the Taliban takeover, access to information has become increasingly difficult, journalistic independence has been curtailed, and civil society organisations have been subjected to increasing pressure.

MEPs also express their alarm at the devastating impact of climate change and environmental degradation in Afghanistan, which is ranked by the UN as the sixth country in the world most affected by climate-related threats, and call for urgent action by the international community to help Afghans address this dramatic situation.

Finally, MEPs ask the EU to establish a long-term strategy on Afghanistan in light of the current situation and the failure of the Taliban to deliver on any of their initial promises.

The resolution was adopted by 532 votes in favour, 8 against with 25 abstentions.

EU condemns Taliban restricting women

Brussels 14.11.2022 “The EU condemns the additional restrictions by the Taliban on women’s freedom of movement, including the newly announced rules barring women from entering public parks and gyms.

“These restrictions come in addition to the already severe violations by the Taliban of the rights of Afghan women and girls – in contradiction to Taliban’s own initial promises. Afghan women and girls remain deprived of secondary education, face restrictions in their travel and movement, and are excluded from most aspects of public and economic life.

“The EU calls on the de facto authorities to honour Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, and to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the Afghan population”.

Russia accredits Taliban diplomat

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 Russia’s Tass news agency quoted sources as saying that Sayed Tayeb Javad, the former Afghan ambassador to Moscow, had been fired and that Taliban appointed diplomat Jamal Nasser Gharwal would be appointed Ambassador to diplomatic mission.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made the remarks while speaking on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Reuters noted that Russia is a part of the nine-member U.N. credentials committee that handles competing claims on Afghanistan’s seat at the U.N.

Russia’s top diplomatic official on Saturday,April 2, said international recognition of the Taliban was not being considered.

“The question of international recognition of the Taliban at the present juncture is not on the table,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Reuters.

Afghanistan’s current ambassador to the U.N., Ghulam Isaczai, who was appointed under the overthrown, democratically elected government, has requested that his accreditation be renewed. The Taliban recently appointed spokesperson Suhail Shaheen to be Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador.

Russia’s top diplomatic official on Saturday said international recognition of the Taliban was not being considered.

“The question of international recognition of the Taliban at the present juncture is not on the table,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Reuters.

Lavrov made the remarks while speaking on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Reuters noted that Russia is a part of the nine-member U.N. credentials committee that handles competing claims on Afghanistan’s seat at the U.N.

Persecution of Christians at rise

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna Van Densky Global persecution of Christians has massively increased throughout the pandemic, according to various human rights monitor groups. Intolerance and massacre of Christians in countries like Nigeria or India has only led to more political outcry. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed on grounds of their faith. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.(Image: illustration).

The 2021 World Watch List (WWL) report, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following the word of Jesus Christ.

However the process of the persecution of Christians has spread viral, and causing the UK to become one of the ‘most intolerant’ countries in Europe towards Christians. That’s the extraordinary claim of a report published this week by Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIACE).

The report identifies the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden as the top five countries driving what it describes as a “rising phenomenon” against Christians.

Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’s 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did four more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
“COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
“Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
“Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 for 20 years, since 2002 when the watch list began.

The cruel treatment of Christians minorities are common in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and they deserve serious political consideration. This year’s #RedWednesday campaign did a meaningful job of highlighting the persecution faced by millions of Christians, not least the Chrisitan girls and women living under the constant threat of abduction, sexual violence and forced conversion.

Kabul: EU remains committed to people

Brussels 02.11.2020 “A terrorist attack was carried out on Tuesday, November 2, against the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul, resulting in at least 25 dead and many wounded inside the hospital” reads the statement by the European External Action Service spokesperson on the attack against Kabul military hospital.

“Attacking a hospital is illegal under international law, goes against fundamental human rights and is a grave breach of Islamic values. The perpetrators of this despicable crime must be brought to justice”.

“Continued terrorist attacks in Afghanistan are a serious obstacle to peace and security. The European Union remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people, including through stepped-up, safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in need”.

The explosions hit the entrance of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital and were followed with an assault by a group of Islamic State gunmen, all of whom were killed within 15 minutes, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

He said Taliban special forces dropped by helicopter had prevented the attackers from entering the hospital itself, with all killed at the entrance or in the courtyard. Earlier another spokesman said one of the attackers was captured.

Greece: migrant vessel returns to Turkey

Brussels 29.10.2021 Greece engaged in a rescue operation on Friday, October 29, for a Turkish-flagged cargo ship carrying about 400 migrants after it sent out a distress signal off shore the island of Crete, the coast guard said.

The Greek coast guard quoted passengers as saying the vessel had sailed from Turkey, calling it “one of the largest search and rescue operations carried out in the eastern Mediterranean.”

“The ship is now sailing in international waters. Greece’s Shipping Ministry has asked Turkey to accept the vessel’s return to Turkey,” a migration ministry official said, declining to be named.

The official said Greece’s migration and asylum minister had contacted Turkish authorities and the EU Commission to resolve the matter.

Earlier, Greek authorities had said the ship was being taken to land without giving further details. The nationalities of the passengers were not immediately available to public.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants, and asylum-seekers arriving from Turkey. However the number of arrivals has fallen sharply since 2016 after the EU and Ankara agreed a deal to stop migrants from crossing to Greece.

Nearly 1 million people, mainly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after crossing to Greek islands close to Turkey. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, many EU states fear a replay of that crisis.

On Tuesday, four migrants, three of them children, drowned after a boat in which they and 23 others were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece sank off the island of Chios.

Europarl: Sakharov Prize 2021

Strasbourg 18.10.2021 The 2021 Sakharov Prize nominees  The 2021 finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are Afghan women, Jeanine Áñez and Alexei Navalny. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg)

Meet this year’s finalists of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, who were chosen at a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees on 14 October:

Afghan women, represented by 11 human rights activists

Jeanine Áñez, Bolivian politician

Alexei Navalny, Russian activist and political prisoner

Afghan women

Under the previous Taliban regime, women experienced forced marriage, high maternity mortality, low literacy, forced virginity tests and couldn’t travel without a man. Following the Taliban’s return to power, women are again excluded from government and education and their rights and freedoms are threatened. The women, who are nominated for their brave fight for equality and human rights, are:

Shaharzad Akbar – chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Mary Akrami – head of the Afghan Women’s Network

Zarifa Ghafari – mayor of Maidan Shar since 2018

Palwasha Hassan – activist and the director of Afghan Women Educational Centre (AWEC)

Freshta Karim – founder of a mobile library and an advocate for education and learning

Sahraa Karimi – first female president of the Afghan state film company

Metra Mehran – women empowerment and education advocate and co-founder of the Feminine Perspectives Movement

Horia Mosadiq – human and women’s rights activist

Sima Samar – human rights advocate, former Minister of Women’s Affairs and former chair of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission

Habiba Sarabi – member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Anisa Shaheed – political reporter

Jeanine Áñez

Jeanine Áñez is a Bolivian politician who became the interim president of her country in November 2019, after alleged electoral fraud by incumbent Evo Morales. In November 2020, after free and fair elections there was a peaceful transfer of power. However, on 13 March 2021 she was arrested on charges of “terrorism, sedition and conspiracy”. Accused of plotting a coup d’état against Morales, she has been imprisoned ever since.

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Known through his LiveJournal blog, YouTube and Twitter accounts, where he has millions of followers Navalny came to international prominence by organising demonstrations, running for office and advocating reforms against corruption in Russia, Putin and his government. In August 2020, while on a trip to Siberia, he was poisoned. He spent months recovering in Berlin, but returned to Moscow in January 2021 where he was arrested. In February he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, he went on a 23-day hunger strike in April to protest the lack of medical care. In June 2021, a Russian court banned Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

EU: Borrell talks with Blinken in Washington

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday,October 14.

The European diplomat welcomed recent intense engagement with the U.S. Administration and expressed the importance to further deepen the EU-U.S. strategic partnership to jointly address foreign policy, security and global challenges. Further he welcomed, in particular, the launch of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh as a strong example of the shared commitment to work together to provide answers to some of today’s most pressing challenges.

Borrell and Blinken highlighted the intention to launch a dialogue on security and defence by the end of the year. The EU diplomat welcomed the setting up of this dedicated channel to discuss common security and defence challenges, building on the mandate agreed by the EU and U.S. Leaders at the EU-U.S. Summit in June. He welcomed the US support for a stronger and more capable European defence and stressed that stronger EU capabilities contribute positively to transatlantic and global security, and also strengthen NATO.

Both diplomats agreed to launch EU-U.S. consultations on the Indo-Pacific, with the aim to step up transatlantic cooperation and joint engagement in the region. They agreed to hold a first high-level meeting this year.

They welcomed the work done under the EU-US Dialogue on China and agreed to hold the next high-level meeting in December. They also agreed to launch the High-level Dialogue on Russia, with the first meeting planned to take place before the end of this year.

Borrell and Blinken discussed some of the most urgent foreign and security policy issues. They addressed, amongst others, the latest developments related to Afghanistan, with the High Representative underlining the utmost priority for the international community being to prevent the socio-economic collapse of the country and the need to work jointly on solutions for Afghan people.

They further discussed the opportunities for continued EU – U.S. partnership in the Western Balkans in support of the region’s progress on its European path, underlined the importance of EU-facilitated Dialogue in addressing issues related to the comprehensive normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and, referring to recent developments, highlighted the need for de-escalation and re-engagement in negotiations. They agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on these matters.

The diplomats also discussed the situation in Venezuela and their strong will to support political processes to restore stability and democratic reconciliation in the country. In addition, they discussed the efforts towards stabilisation in the Sahel region.

They paid attention to high energy prices, the global impact of this crisis as well as the green energy transition. They looked forward to the next meeting of the EU-U.S. Energy Council early next year, agreed on the need for an ambitious outcome at the COP 26 climate conference.

Concluding the talks Josep Borrell once again has drawn attention to the modality of the relations between two partners. “The European Union and the United States share an important and unique relationship. We will continue to work closely not only because we are partners of first resort but also because friends and allies look at us and expect us to work together to address global challenges” the EU diplomat said.

EU supports Afghan refugees

Brussels 02.10.2021 In a meeting of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) Core Group, chaired by the European Union (EU) today, its members affirmed their commitment to scale-up international humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan in 2021, and for refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries.

“Due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the Core Group reoriented its immediate focus to coordinate its collective support for the escalating humanitarian needs of 3.5 million Afghans internally displaced due to conflict, as well as the long-standing response and preparedness efforts in neighbouring countries in the region.

The Core Group is deeply concerned by the dire situation that Afghans currently face and is committed to deliver a lifeline of support to alleviate suffering and save lives. The acute humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was gravely exacerbated in 2021 by continued internal conflict and ensuing instability. Among the 3.5 million people internally displaced, over 600.000 were displaced in 2021. Eighty percent are women and children. Furthermore, some 18 million people – nearly half of the country – depend upon the most basic support to live, with high levels of food insecurity. Many displaced families face the prospect of returning to destroyed homes and villages with a harsh winter just ahead, and amid difficult economic challenges.

The Core Group’s members have individually provided support to the Afghan people through bilateral and other programmes, including focussed support for returnees, refugees, and IDPs. Since August 2021, members of the Core Group have significantly contributed to meet the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, as well as for the neighbouring countries that are hosting and providing protection to Afghan refugees.

The Core Group expresses its continued solidarity with major refugee host countries in the region and reiterates its commitment to sustained support for host communities that have generously supported Afghan refugees for decades, particularly in Iran and Pakistan. The Core Group recognises and supports the wishes of hosting countries to find lasting and safe solutions for Afghan refugees. It also calls on them, at this difficult time, to also maintain their longstanding commitment to providing protection to Afghan refugees, including new arrivals. It reiterates its support for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, advisory(link is external) to refrain from returns of Afghans at this time. The Core Group remains committed to staying the course and providing political, financial, and technical support towards achieving concrete and tangible solutions for refugees in the future.”

The SSAR Core Group was established to channel political, financial and technical support towards supporting solutions for the protracted Afghan refugee situation. Both Iran and Pakistan have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades.

The SSAR Core Group’s membership includes the Kingdom of Denmark, the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, State of Qatar, the Swiss Confederation, Republic of Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, as well as development partners the Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank.

The SSAR Core Group is linked to a larger initiative called the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR). The Support Platform, created in 2019, is intended to help Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in coordinating their efforts on promoting solutions for Afghan refugees, and to implement the Solutions Strategy adopted by the three countries, with the endorsement of the international community and UNHCR’s support, in 2012.

A Support Platform is a mechanism envisioned by the Global Compact on Refugees(link is external), which was affirmed by the UN General Assembly in 2018. This landmark Global Compact is itself a framework for building global solidarity on refugee solutions and promoting equitable responsibility-sharing for refugees globally.

SOTEU: Afghan Support Package in view

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “…Recent events in Afghanistan are not the cause of this change – but they are a symptom of it” the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, while delivering the State of Union speech at European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg.
“And first and foremost, I want to be clear. We stand by the Afghan people. The women and children, prosecutors, journalists and human rights defenders”.

“I think in particular of women judges who are now in hiding from the men they jailed. They have been put at risk for their contribution to justice and the rule of law. We must support them and we will coordinate all efforts with Member States to bring them to safety.

“And we must continue supporting all Afghans in the country and in neighbouring countries. We must do everything to avert the real risk of a major famine and humanitarian disaster. And we will do our part. We will increase again humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by 100 million euro.

“This will be part of a new, wider Afghan Support Package that we will present in the next weeks to combine all of our efforts” the president of the Commission concluded.

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