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  21 Jan 2022, 11:34

EU re-establishing 'minimal presence' in Kabul

 BRUSSELS, Jan 21, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - The European Union on Thursday announced it had begun re-establishing a "minimal presence" in Kabul to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.

  "Our minimal presence in Kabul must not in any way be seen as recognition" of the Taliban government there," EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement.

  "This has also been clearly communicated to the de facto authorities," he added.

  Afghanistan is in the grip of a humanitarian disaster, worsened by the Taliban takeover in August that prompted Western countries to freeze international aid and access to billions of dollars worth of assets held abroad.

  The country was almost entirely dependent on foreign aid under the previous US-backed government, but jobs have dried up and most civil servants haven't been paid for months.

  No country has yet recognised the Taliban, with most watching to see how the hardline Islamists -- notorious for human rights abuses during their first stint in power -- restrict freedoms.

  Shortly before Stano made his comments, an Afghan foreign ministry spokesman said on Twitter that the EU was reopening "an embassy" with "a permanent presence in Kabul" for the first time in five months.

  Stano said in the statement "the EU has started to re-establish a minimal presence of international EU Delegation staff to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and monitor the humanitarian situation".

  The international community is waiting to see how the Taliban Islamic fundamentalists intend to govern Afghanistan, after having largely trampled on human rights during their first stint in power between 1996 and 2001.

  While the Taliban claim to have modernised, women are still largely excluded from public employment and secondary schools for girls remain largely closed.

  Several countries, including China. Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Iran have kept their embassies in Kabul open since the Taliban victory last year, but have not formally recognised their government.

  Western diplomats began to evacuate their personnel in the first half of 2021, when American troops began operations to withdraw permanently from Afghanistan.

  The withdrawal culminated at the end of August with the chaotic evacuation of 120,000 people following the Taliban's lightning conquest of the country.

 

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