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UN human rights chief: Taliban capture stoked desperation among many Afghans

Afghanistan’s capture by the Taliban has raised grave fears of a return to past patterns of human rights violations, and stoked desperation among many Afghans, said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She further said that in recent weeks, her office has received disturbing and credible reports of the impact on civilians of violations of international humanitarian law, as well as violations and abuses of human rights, by the parties to the conflict.

Bachelet said, “In particular, we have also received credible reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law, and human rights abuses, taking place in many areas under effective Taliban control.

They include, among others, summary executions of civilians and hors de combat members of the Afghan national security forces; restrictions on the rights of women, including their right to move around freely and girls’ right to attend schools; recruitment of child soldiers; and repression of peaceful protest and expression of dissent,

She said that many people now fear acts of vengeance by the Taliban against those working with the Government or the international community; people who have worked to advance human rights and justice; or those whose lifestyles and opinions are simply perceived to be opposed to the Taliban’s ideology.

There are grave fears for women, for journalists, and for the new generation of civil society leaders who have arisen in the past few years.

Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic and religious minorities are also at risk of violence and repression, given previous patterns of serious violations under Taliban rule and reports of killings and targeted attacks in recent months, the statement said.

The UNHCR has estimated that an additional 270,000 people have been forced to leave their households and livelihoods since January 2021, bringing the total displaced population to more than 3.5 million.

“We can expect that significant numbers of people will seek refuge in neighboring nations or outside the region,” Bachelet added.

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