Afghanistan: Girls and Women

Lord Collins of Highbury Excerpts
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

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.

Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I recognise that the Minister addressed this issue in the Statement last Thursday, in which he mentioned the visit of the Deputy Secretary-General. Could he tell us a little more about her reaction to her meetings in Afghanistan and what possibility there is to pursue dialogue? He also mentioned the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which is critical to reaching out to other Islamic countries. Can he tell us whether he has met that organisation directly on this issue?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the noble Lord’s second point, I have met Tariq Bakheet directly in Jeddah—“Tariq” is a good name to have on these things—and we continue to engage directly with the OIC. The Deputy Secretary-General and the director of UN Women were both there, together with the SRSG. They went to Herat, Kabul and Kandahar and met a range of Taliban Ministers. About 40% of 50% of those involved with the NGO sector, for example, are women, so they made the case very powerfully for the need for that to continue. There has been some progress; for example, we have seen women doctors and nurses returning to the health sector. However, the situation is quite dire and they left Afghanistan very clear about the picture there. As we have said before, much of the power centres on the Emir in Kandahar, and his edict seems to be final.