The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan | The Taliban delegation is expected to arrive in Norway

(Oslo) The Norwegian diplomat announced, on Friday, that the Taliban will hold talks next week in Oslo with the Europeans and Americans focusing on the critical humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, in their first official visit to the West since their return to power in August.

Posted at 7:30 am

Pierre-Henri Dechaise
France media agency

A delegation from the Islamic Movement will be in Norway from January 23-25 ​​and will meet with representatives of the Norwegian authorities and other allied countries, as well as members of Afghan civil society.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the European Union would be represented.

“We are deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a massive humanitarian catastrophe,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anneken Hoetfeldt said in a statement.

“In order to be able to help the civilian population of Afghanistan, it is essential that the international community and Afghans from various aspects of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban,” she added.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has taken a dramatic turn since August and the Taliban’s return to power, facing nearly empty coffers after their lightning invasion of the country.

Afghan Prime Minister’s office image via AP

The Taliban held an economic conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on January 19.

International aid, which had been financing nearly 80% of the Afghan budget, was suddenly halted, and the United States also froze $9.5 billion in assets of the Afghan Central Bank.

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‘Not a confession’

The Taliban delegation will be led by Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki.

” this is [visite] “It paves the way for discussions, meetings and agreements with European Union countries,” Afghan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

He added that exchanges will also take place with representatives from Washington on “outstanding issues”, such as the release of Afghan funds.

Famine now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55% of the population, according to the United Nations, which needs $4.4 billion from donor nations this year to tackle the country’s humanitarian crisis.

PHOTO MOHD RASFAN, AFP

People walk down a street in Kabul where nut sellers set up stalls on January 20.

She stressed that Norway would be “clear” regarding its expectations, particularly with regard to girls’ education and human rights,I Hewetfeldt explained that the meetings to be held “do not constitute legitimacy or recognition of the Taliban.”

But we have to talk to the authorities who are de facto running the country. She stressed that we cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.

If on Thursday the European Union announced the restoration of a “minimum presence” of its personnel in Kabul in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, no country would yet recognize the Taliban government.

After participating in Operation Enduring Freedom International that ousted them from power in 2001, Norway used to mediate, and for its part maintained a dialogue with the Taliban for several years.

Women’s rights

However, the international community is waiting to see how Islamic fundamentalists intend to rule Afghanistan, having largely trampled on human rights during their first term in power between 1996 and 2001.

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The Taliban claim to have modernized, but women are still largely excluded from public employment and girls’ secondary schools remain mostly closed.

Norway said that their delegation is expected to meet in Oslo with women, journalists and people active in the field of human rights and humanitarian, economic, social and political issues, without naming them.

Prior to Norway, the Taliban at this point made visits to Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Doha where they held talks with US representatives.

Several countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, kept their embassies open in Kabul after the Taliban victory, but did not recognize their government.

Western diplomats began evacuating their personnel from the first half of 2021, when US forces began operations for the final withdrawal from Afghanistan. The withdrawal ended at the end of August with the chaotic evacuation of 120,000 people in the face of the arrival of the Taliban.

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