Taliban Delegation in Geneva Discusses Humanitarian Needs
Feb. 11 (EIRNS)–Beginning Feb. 7 and extending through today, a large Taliban delegation has been meeting behind closed doors in Geneva in sessions convened by the humanitarian organization Geneva Call, to discuss the country’s dire humanitarian crisis with representatives of non-governmental organizations, foreign diplomats, Swiss government officials, Doctors Without Borders and other institutions. In the course of this week’s private meetings, Afghan Health Minister, Qalander Ebad, met with World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, with whom he discussed the Afghan health system’s enormous needs, especially Covid-19 (Omicron) test kits, vaccines, expanding the healthcare workforce, etc. Tedros issued a call to the international community to “continue the dialogue to support the people of Afghanistan, so that we improve the health and wellbeing of all Afghan people.” Today, Al Jazeera reports, the Taliban were scheduled to meet with Swiss and other European officials, and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
According to the Associated Press, the meetings were kept private, in order to build conditions for more aid to the country. That meant exacting some commitment from the Taliban on issues of human rights–women and girls–education, etc. No one from the Taliban delegation was made available to the press. According to Raphael Naegeli, head of the Asia-Pacific division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Taliban delegation’s presence in Geneva in no way suggested recognition of its government; but stressed it was important to continue to engage with the Islamic Emirate and to impress on them the need to provide certain guarantees and show the international community they are a serious and trustworthy government..
As a result of this week’s discussions, Geneva Call tweeted this afternoon that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had in fact adopted a humanitarian declaration, making commitments in five areas: humanitarian aid, healthcare, education, explosives (left in the country after years of war) and environmental and cultural protection. Geneva Call stated that the Taliban commitment “represents a step towards enhanced protection of civilians in Afghanistan, acknowledging that needs are dire and that increased support and collaboration is needed to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan population.”