UN to Taliban on allowing girls in high schools: 'Respect right to education'
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has expressed deep concerns over the Taliban government in Afghanistan banning girls from attending school above the sixth grade. On Friday, the UNSC members heard a briefing by the secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, over the right to education for all Afghans, including girls.
In a statement, the UNSC said on Sunday, “Security Council members reaffirmed the right to education for all Afghans, including girls, and called on the Taliban to respect the right to education and adhere to their commitments to reopen schools for all female students without further delay.”
The members requested the SRSG to continue to engage with all relevant Afghan stakeholders on the issue, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's (UNAMA's) mandate, and keep the Security Council informed on progress.
“The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of efforts by the international community to support Afghanistan, including on education, and highlighted the coordinating role of the UNAMA in this regard,” the UNSC statement on Sunday added.
The Taliban's decision to ban girls from attending schools above grade six comes seven months after it gained control over Afghanistan in a violent takeover in August last year.
Last week, thousands of secondary school girls in Afghanistan were eager to attend classes for the first time since August 2021. However, orders were issued to shut down schools within a few hours. Girl students have been instructed to stay at home until the Taliban government announces its next decision.
Women rights activists in the war-torn country have warned of nationwide protests if the Taliban fails to reopen girls' secondary schools within a week. "We call on the leaders of the Islamic Emirate to open girls' schools within one week. If the girls' schools remain closed even after one week, we will open them ourselves and stage demonstrations throughout the country until our demands are met," a statement issued by women's rights groups read.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, female students in the capital city of Kabul took to the streets to protest against the ban on attending classes. They chanted slogans "education is our absolute right" and demanded the reopening of schools for girls in classes 7-12.
The Talibani education ministry has not yet given a reason for the ban, but a senior leader of the Islamic Emirate told news agency AFP on Sunday that some practical issues still had to be resolved before reopening schools.
Chinese authorities on Tuesday closed down parts of Tibet and launched mass testing in the capital after a rare outbreak of Covid-19 was reported in the remote region, even as the local government scrambles to contain Covid clusters in Hainan province's tourism hotspot, where thousands of tourists remain stranded. Authorities also suspended large events, shut entertainment and religious venues, and closed some tourist sites, including the famous Potala and Norbulingka Palaces, both world heritage sites.
Nagasaki paid tribute to the victims of the US atomic bombing 77 years ago on Aug 9, with the mayor saying Russia's war on Ukraine showed the world that another nuclear attack is not just a worry but "a tangible and present crisis". Read Reducing the risk of a nuclear war The United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people.
Sri Lanka on Tuesday said its “excellent relations” with China remain on a solid foundation even as it explained that it had deferred a proposal for a Chinese research vessel to call at Hambantota port because of the need for further consultations. The vessel, equipped with powerful radars and surveillance equipment, was earlier scheduled to call at Hambantota port, which is controlled by China, on August 11 for replenishment.
Parts of Tibet are running mass COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, including the Chinese autonomous region's two largest cities, to fight a rare flare-up, while clusters were growing in tropical Hainan and in Xinjiang in China's west. Subvariants of the highly transmissible Omicron are challenging China's strategy of swiftly blocking the spread of each nascent cluster. Mainland China reported 828 new domestically transmitted cases for Aug. 8, official data showed on Tuesday.
China used the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei as a pretext to hold war games in the region that helped prepare it for a possible invasion of the island, Taiwan's foreign minister said, adding Beijing had been planning the move for some time. Taiwan responded by deploying aircraft and vessels, issuing radio warnings and deploying land-based missile systems to monitor the activities.