KABUL, Dec 20 (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban-run Ministry of Higher Education on Tuesday suspended access for female students to university until further notice, drawing strong condemnation from the United States, Britain and the United Kingdom. United and United Nations.
A letter, confirmed by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education, ordered Afghan public and private universities to immediately suspend access to female students, in accordance with a cabinet decision.
The announcement by the Taliban administration, which has not been internationally recognised, came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan.
Foreign governments, including the United States, have said a change in policies on women’s education is needed before they can consider officially recognizing the Taliban-led administration, which is also subject to heavy restrictions. penalties.
“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls” , US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council, describing the decision as “absolutely indefensible”.
British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said the suspension was “another egregious restriction on women’s rights and a deep and profound disappointment for every student”.
“It is also another step by the Taliban away from a self-reliant and prosperous Afghanistan,” she told the council.
In March, the Taliban drew criticism from many foreign governments and some Afghans for flip-flopping on opening all girls’ high schools.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday’s move was “clearly another broken promise from the Taliban”.
“This is another very troubling decision and it is hard to imagine how the country can develop, face all the challenges it faces, without the active participation of women and the education of women,” said- he told reporters in New York.
Shortly before the announcement on universities, UN special envoy for Afghanistan Roza Otunbayeva said the closure of high schools had “undermined” the Taliban administration’s relationship with the international community and was “extremely unpopular among Afghans and even among the Taliban leadership”.
“As long as girls remain excluded from school and the de facto authorities continue to ignore other stated concerns of the international community, we will remain in a kind of stalemate,” she said.
The decision came as many university students were taking end-of-term exams. The mother of a university student, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said her daughter called her in tears when she heard about the letter, fearing she could no longer continue his medical studies in Kabul.
“The pain that not only me.. and (other) mothers have in our hearts, cannot be described. We all feel this pain, they are worried about the future of their children,” she said. .
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Mohammad Yunus Yawar; Additional reporting and writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alexander Smith, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman
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