Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness Gohir Portrait Baroness Gohir
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Taliban concerning its commitments to allow Afghan girls to go to school and Afghan women to work.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, the latest announcements banning Afghan women from universities and aid work represent a further violation of the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls, and they have no religious or moral basis. We are working with the United Nations, NGOs and other donors to understand the impact of the bans and to ensure that lifesaving humanitarian assistance continues wherever possible. Alongside international partners, we will also continue to press the Taliban directly to lift those draconian decrees.

Baroness Gohir Portrait Baroness Gohir (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his response. While we are waiting for the Taliban to shift their stance on women’s rights, what is plan B? Women are being erased from public life and are starving. My understanding is that there are some in the Taliban leadership willing to talk about women’s rights. Are there plans for the Government to make an official visit to Afghanistan, to talk directly with the Taliban on women’s rights? Also, are there plans to talk to the countries that have a good relationship with the Taliban, for example by convening a meeting with the various stakeholders? Ambassadors in London, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, could be brought together for a meeting. Are there plans to convene such a meeting?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I assure the noble Baroness that we are doing all the above. Indeed, from the time of the Taliban’s takeover, we have engaged directly with neighbouring countries. We are working directly with the United Nations. In fact, earlier this morning, I met with Sima Bahous and Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, who had just returned from visits to Afghanistan and the near neighbourhood. I am dealing with various Muslim countries directly, including the OIC, on engagement. We are also engaging directly with the Taliban; a number of visits have been made by our chargé from Doha, and those will continue.