Cyprus calls for protection of Afghanistan women

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Cyprus is among 50 countries that issued a joint statement raising fears of the erosion of women and girls’ rights in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

The statement has been co-signed by Albania, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, Honduras, Guatemala, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Senegal, Switzerland, UK, and the United States.

“We are deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement.

“We call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection”, the statement said.

The countries stated that Afghan women and girls, like all Afghan people, deserve to live in safety, security, and dignity.

And any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented.

“We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard.

“We will monitor closely how any future government ensures rights and freedoms that have become an integral part of the life of women and girls in Afghanistan during the last twenty years.”

The Taliban captured Kabul on Sunday, having swept across the country as foreign forces withdrew.

Their victory returns the group to power 20 years from when they were toppled in a US-led invasion.

The group’s previous stint in power saw widespread abuses, including public executions and banning women from the workplace.

But in their first news conference since retaking control of Afghanistan, the group presented a conciliatory tone, promising women’s rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

The Taliban have reportedly pledged not to force women to wear the burka – a one-piece veil covering the face and body. Instead, the hijab – or a headscarf – will be compulsory.

Foreign powers are trying to get their nationals out of Afghanistan.

More than 18,000 people have been evacuated in the last five days from Kabul airport.

Some 6,000 more, among them former interpreters for foreign armed forces, are on standby to be flown out.