UN official: Taliban to announce secondary school for girls

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UNITED NATIONS (PA) – A senior UN official said on Friday that the Taliban had told him they would announce “very soon” that all Afghan girls would be allowed to attend secondary schools.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi, who visited Kabul last week, told reporters at UN headquarters that five of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces – Balkh, Jawzjan and Samangan in the northwest, Kunduz in the northeast and Urozgan in the southwest – already allow girls to attend secondary school.

He said the Taliban education minister told him they were working on “a framework” to allow all girls to continue their education beyond sixth grade, which is expected to be released “between one month And two”.

“As I speak to you today, millions of girls of secondary school age are being denied an education for the 27th day in a row,” Abdi said. “We urge them not to wait. Every day that we wait is a wasted day for these girls who are out of school.

During the previous Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they denied girls and women the right to education and barred them from work and public life. Since taking control of Afghanistan on August 15 when US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years, the Taliban have come under increasing international pressure to secure the rights of women in education and work.

Abdi said that at every meeting he had urged the Taliban “to let the girls resume their learning”, calling it “critical for the girls themselves and for the country as a whole”.

When the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring Osama bin Laden who orchestrated the September 11 attacks on the United States, only one million Afghan children were in school at all. the levels, he said.

Over the past 20 years that figure has grown to nearly 10 million children at all levels, including 4 million girls, Abdi said, and over the past decade the number of schools has tripled, from 6,000 to 18,000.

“The educational gains of the past two decades must be strengthened and not reversed,” he said.

But the deputy head of the United Nations Children’s Fund said despite this progress, 4.2 million Afghan children are out of school, including 2.6 million girls.

While all girls are allowed to attend secondary school, Abdi said, efforts still need to be made to overcome conservative resistance to allow them to get a secondary education.

“The authorities I met told me that when they put in place the framework they are working on, it will convince more parents to send their daughters to school,” because it will address the concerns of conservative societies. concerning the separation of girls and boys and girls. teachers, he said.

“So this has to be seen,” Abdi said.

While in Kabul, the UNICEF deputy chief said he had also visited a children’s hospital “and was shocked at how crowded it was with malnourished children, including some were babies ”.

Abdi said the health and social services system are on the verge of collapse, medical supplies are dangerously low, epidemics of measles and watery diarrhea are on the rise, and polio and COVID-19 remain. serious concerns.

“Even before the Taliban takeover, at least 10 million children across the country needed humanitarian assistance to survive,” he said, “and at least one million of these children are at risk of die of severe acute malnutrition if not treated immediately.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to prevent the Afghan economy from collapsing and to help the Afghan people, a call echoed by Abdi who said “the situation is critical and that it will only get worse “.

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