Perizat RISBEK KIZI
The Taliban delegation, representing Afghanistan, is in Switzerland at the invitation of non-governmental organization Geneva Call. The organization is hosting a conference on Afghanistan behind closed doors from Monday to Friday, aimed at enhancing the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country. Talks were also held with the World Health Organization (WHO), Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders as well as European diplomats, including representatives of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Enhancing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan
The conference is aimed at enhancing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country. According to the Geneva Call statement:
“The country is facing a complex emergency due to past overlapping armed conflicts, COVID-19 and its socioeconomic consequences, and extreme weather. Today, 23 million Afghan people are at risk of malnutrition and 97 percent of the population lives under the poverty level.”
In this context, Geneva Call invited the Taliban to the conference “to discuss the status of humanitarian assistance, the protection of civilians, respect of health care, and the issue of land mines and explosive remnants of war.”
Swiss Ambassador: “Taliban delegation showed an interest in dialogue with the international community”
On Thursday, February 10, the Taliban also held consultations with Swiss officials, led by Ambassador Raphael Nägeli, head of the Asia-Pacific Department at the Swiss Foreign Ministry. After the meeting Raphael Nägeli told journalists that the talks with the eleven-strong Afghan Taliban delegation were “open” and “honest”. He also emphasized that the Taliban delegation showed an interest in dialogue with the international community.
“We expressed very clearly our expectations, notably when it comes to human rights, guarantees for humanitarian aid (deliveries) and the protection of the civilian population,” said Swiss diplomat.
Meeting with WHO Director–General
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met with Acting Taliban Health Minister Qalandar Ebad. He said they discussed health needs in the country, strengthening the system, emergency preparedness and training the health workforce. “The acute need in Afghanistan is to deliver diagnostics to detect the COVID-19 virus, and in particular Omicron, as the number of cases is on the rise,” Tedros said.
Red Cross urged world to invest more in Afghanistan to save its healthcare system
Today, February 11, the Taliban delegation is meeting with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The agenda is not yet known, but it is worth emphasizing that the ICRC has earlier called for greater investment in the country to save the Afghanistan nation’s health care system and essential services amid ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
Taliban foreign minister: “Taliban is inching closer toward international recognition”
The weeklong conference marks the second time that representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government have taken part in humanitarian talks hosted by a European country. The Taliban-led government last month sent a 15-member delegation to Oslo for similar closed-door talks with Western diplomats.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban foreign minister and leader of the delegation that went to Oslo, told AFP in an interview last week that the group feels it is inching closer toward international recognition. “We have come closer to that goal,” he said, urging Washington to unlock $9.5 billion in Afghan Central Bank assets to help ease the humanitarian crisis.