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UN Children’s Agency Official Says They Are Optimistic Following Taliban Talks

(Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The chief of field operations in Afghanistan for the United Nations’ children’s agency (UNICEF) said the organization is “quite optimistic” about working with the Taliban on issues like girls’ education after the Islamic militant group captured the capital of the country over the weekend.

UNICEF is still delivering aid to most of the country and has held meetings with Taliban officials in multiple seized cities, according to Reuters. Eleven of the agency’s 13 field offices in Afghanistan are still operating normally.

“We have ongoing discussions, we are quite optimistic based on those discussions,” UNICEF chief of field operations in Afghanistan Mustapha Ben Messaoud told a U.N. briefing Tuesday. “We have not a single issue with the Taliban in those field offices.”

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said Monday the Taliban are implementing “chilling” crackdowns on human rights, including particular violations against women and girls. The insurgents are infamous for their mistreatment of women during their previous rule of the country in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including not allowing girls to attend school and or women to leave their homes without a male relative. Women who violated the archaic laws were subject to punishments such as stoning.

UNICEF said some of the local Taliban officials were waiting on guidance from their leadership on the issue of education for young girls. Others apparently said they want schools “up and running,” according to Reuters. (RELATED: Shocking Video Appears To Show Afghan Hanging Out Of Landing Gear)

Ben Messaoud said UNICEF had not yet made contact with Taliban leadership in Kabul, which was overrun by the group in recent days. U.S. forces are still trying to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from the city’s airport, while Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in the city from Pakistan on Tuesday.

“We call on the Taliban to demonstrate through their actions, not just their words, that the fears for the safety of so many people from so many different walks of life are addressed,” spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Rupert Colville said Tuesday. The U.N. is not planning to evacuate its aid workers in the country as of now.