Concerns raised over talks with the Taliban in Geneva

Controversy has been surrounding the visit to Geneva of a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban government. The group has been meeting non-governmental organisations and institutions to try to unblock access to humanitarian aid to their country. 

This content was published on February 10, 2022

The World Food Programme External linkreports that in a country of nearly 42 million people, more than half of them face starvation. A freeze on Afghanistan’s currency reserves and the loss of foreign aid since the Taliban seized power in 2021 have accelerated an economic collapse. According to South Asia correspondent Thomas Gutersohn from Swiss Public Television, SRF: "Up to 75% of public spending in the last 20 years has always been borne by foreign aid. And that aid is missing at the moment."  The issue is being addressed in the Geneva discussions, as well as the critical human rights situation in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Ambassador Raphael Nägeli, Head of the Asia Pacific Division at the Swiss foreign ministry, told the Taliban delegation that Switzerland expected them to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

The delegation’s visit to the Swiss city was controversial because the Taliban is a militant group that has not been recognised by any state as the legitimate government. In its 2022 World ReportExternal link, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch details the increase in human rights abuses in the country under Taliban leadership. 

Currently, Afghanistan is represented in Geneva by Nasir Andisha, the ambassador appointed by the former government. Liberal and anti-Taliban, he has repeatedly denounced the group before the Human Rights Council.

The Taliban delegation visit was organised by Geneva Call, a humanitarian organisation that engages with non-state armed groups on the protection of civilians around the world. Participants in the meetings include the World Health Organisation, the Swiss foreign ministry, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins sans Frontières. In January, Taliban representatives travelled to Norway for similar talks with members of several western governments.

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