The United Nations will not participate in talks with Afghanistan's Taliban militia group because the Taliban refuses to allow the presence of U.N. office for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan head Alfredo Witschi-Cestari, according to the Washington Post.
Earlier this year, Witschi-Cestari ordered the temporary termination of aid to Afghanistan as a protest to the Taliban's harassment of U.N. workers, treatment of women and decrees that foreign Muslim women must be accompanied by a husband, brother or son while in public.
Taliban militia leaders, U.S. State Department officials, and representatives of the northern opposition that retains control of 15 percent of the country met yesterday in Islamabad, Pakistan. The group discussed the formation of a steering committee composed of Islamic religious scholars that would participate in peace-talks next week.
Since the fundamentalist militia group gained control of 85 percent of the Afghanistan in 1996, they have issued a series of decrees designed to strip women of their most basic human rights. Women are prohibited from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a brother, son or husband, girls are forbidden to attend school, and women's access to healthcare is largely restricted.
After talks with U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson late last week, the Taliban said they may consider segregated religious universities for women and may allow women and girls to receive healthcare from Afghan women doctors.
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Media Resources: Washington Post, Reuters - April 21/20, 1998
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