Monday May 16, 2022

Taliban collect $1 bn in exports

UN official stresses need for the Taliban to be inclusive and guarantee the rights of minorities and women

By News Report
January 21, 2022
Trade convoy crossing Afghan-Iran border. -File
Trade convoy crossing Afghan-Iran border. -File

KABUL: Five months into their rule over Afghanistan, the Taliban have increased revenue, cracked down on corruption and collected a surprising $1 billion in exports, the UN representative for the country said.

At the same time, Deborah Lyons, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, stressed the need for the Taliban to be inclusive and guarantee the rights of minorities and women. “An economy thrives only when women and all segments of a society are equal participants,” she cautioned. Lyons spoke at a one-day economic conference organized by the Taliban — their first such event, held at a time when Afghanistan teeters on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse.

Kabul’s assets abroad, mainly in the United States, have been frozen after the Taliban overran the country in mid-August. The international community has been hesitant to officially recognize a Taliban government, wary they could impose some of the same harsh measures as under their previous rule, 20 years ago.

The downward spiral has thrown more than half a million people out of work according to a report by the International Labor Organization released on Wednesday. Women have been the hardest hit by the rise in unemployment. Companies are struggling to stay afloat as thousands of Afghans flee the country each day, the report said, warning of more dire prospects in 2022 as work becomes even more scarce.

Women held about one in five jobs in Afghanistan in 2020, but are now being prevented from working in some areas. Education for girls has also been limited, though Taliban leaders have said they hope to be able to open all schools for girls across the country after late March.

Still, Lyons touted some of the bright spots while also warning that humanitarian needs are enormous — 1 million children at the risk of starvation, nearly 90 percent of the population below the poverty level and hunger threatening two-thirds of Afghanistan. The UN has warned that 8.7 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation.