Conflicts & War

Norway to host Afghan talks next week as humanitarian crisis worsen

Copenhagen, Jan 21 (EFE).- A Taliban delegation and Afghan civil society members will travel to the Norwegian capital next week for talks with the international community as humanitarian and economic crises rage in the war-ravaged country.

The Norwegian foreign ministry said Friday that it invited the Taliban to Oslo from Jan.23 to 25.

The Taliban delegation would meet “with the Norwegian authorities and representatives of the international community, as well as with other Afghans from a range of fields within civil society,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not name which other countries would attend the proposed meetings with the Taliban and Afghan delegations.

“We are extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster,” Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said.

Huitfeldt said it was essential that the international community and Afghans from various sections of the society engage in dialog with the Taliban to help the civilian population out of the crisis.

“We will be clear about our expectations of the Taliban, particularly as regards girls’ education and human rights such as women’s right to participate in society,” said Huitfeldt.

The foreign ministry statement said the meetings would also take place between the Taliban delegation and other Afghans with different backgrounds.

“These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” said the statement.

The minister, however, clarified that the proposed meetings “do not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban.”

“We must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Afghanistan is battling drought, a pandemic, an economic collapse, and the effects of years of conflict.

The problems have multiplied due to the international blockage of Afghan financial assets abroad after the Taliban seized power in Kabul on Aug.15 last year.

Some 24 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity.

Global surveys have indicated that one million Afghan children could die of starvation.

According to UN estimates, more than half of the population will be facing famine this winter, and 97 percent of the population could fall below the poverty line this year.

“Humanitarian assistance, while essential, is not enough. We must prevent a collapse in basic services such as health and education. We must support the livelihoods of families and communities,” Huitfeldt noted.

A Norwegian delegation traveled to Kabul earlier this week to discuss the humanitarian situation with the Afghan authorities.

Norway has hosted several rounds of talks between the Taliban, other Afghan groups, and the international community in the past. EFE


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