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BRIEFING NOTES - (1) Afghanistan (2) WeThe15 Global Disability Rights Campaign

Location: Geneva

Date: 17 August 2021

Subjects: (1) Afghanistan

(2) #WeThe15 global disability rights campaign

(1) Afghanistan:

The desperate scenes at Kabul airport yesterday underlined the gravity of the situation after the Taliban seized all the major population centres in Afghanistan.

Fortunately, the capital and the other last major cities to be captured such as Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif were not subjected to prolonged fighting, bloodshed or destruction. However, the fear instilled in a significant proportion of the population is profound, and – given past history – thoroughly understandable.

Taliban spokespeople have issued a number of statements in recent days, including pledging an amnesty for those who worked for the previous Government. They have also pledged to be inclusive. They have said woman can work and girls can go to school. Such promises will need to be honoured, and for the time being -- again understandably, given past history -- these declarations have been greeted with some scepticism. Nevertheless, the promises have been made, and whether or not they are honoured or broken will be closely scrutinized.

As the Secretary-General said in his statement to the Security Council yesterday, all parties, including the Taliban have an obligation to protect civilians and to uphold human rights. They must respect and protect both international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

As the High Commissioner noted a week ago, and the Secretary-General also pointed out yesterday, there have been chilling reports of human rights abuses, and of restrictions on the rights of individuals, especially women and girls, in some parts of the country captured over the past few weeks. Such reports continue to be received. Unfortunately, for the time being, the flow of information has been considerably disrupted, and we have not been in a position to verify the most recent allegations.

There have been many hard-won advances in human rights over the past two decades. The rights of all Afghans must be defended. We are particularly concerned about the safety of the thousands of Afghans who have been working to promote human rights across the country, and have helped improve the lives of millions.

We call on the international community to extend all possible support to those who may be at imminent risk, and 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.

(2) #WeThe15 global disability rights campaign

This Thursday, the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Office, Palais Wilson in Geneva, will be lit up in purple - the international colour for disability - to mark the start of a global, 10-year campaign to empower people with disabilities and advance their human rights.

Launching just ahead of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the #WeThe15 campaign aims to end discrimination against people with disabilities and be a worldwide movement for greater visibility, inclusion and accessibility.

People with disabilities number more than one billion – they represent 15% of the world’s population. They are part of human diversity.

#WeThe15 has brought together a large coalition of international organisations from the world of sport, human rights, policy, business, culture, and entertainment. Over the next decade, #WeThe15 organisations will work with governments, businesses, and the public to bring about change for the world’s largest marginalised group.

To celebrate the launch of this campaign, more than 125 iconic landmarks, spanning several countries and time-zones will light up in purple.

© Scoop Media

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