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US visa restrictions leveled on Taliban officials over repression of women, girls

The State Department is placing additional visa restrictions on certain current and former Taliban members over the regime’s repression of girls and women in Afghanistan. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Wednesday statement that the restrictions will also be imposed on “members of non-state security groups” and others who are believed to be responsible for or complicit in the repression through restrictive policies and violence. 

Blinken noted that the most recent actions from the Taliban, including prohibiting women from attending universities in the country and from working with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), have shown their “disregard” for the wellbeing of the Afghan people. 

“We condemn in the strongest of terms the Taliban’s actions,” Blinken said. “The United States stands with the Afghan people and remains committed to doing all we can to promote and advance respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls.”

Blinken did not name the individuals facing the restrictions.

He said the Taliban’s actions have forced more than 1 million school-aged Afghan girls and young women out of the classroom and even more women out of higher education and the workforce. He said the number will grow with time and worsen Afghanistan’s humanitarian and economic crises. 

Multiple major NGOs have announced that they are halting their work in Afghanistan over the Taliban’s restrictions on women.

After the U.S. completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and the Taliban retook power, a great deal of international aid to the poverty-stricken country stopped.

The U.S. provided more than $1 billion in aid to support the humanitarian crisis in the year since its troops pulled out of the country. 

But Blinken warned that support from the world is not going to be granted without conditions. 

“The Taliban cannot expect the respect and support of the international community until they respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls,” he said. 

Blinken said the U.S. will continue to work with its allies to make clear that the Taliban’s actions will “carry significant costs” and reduce the chances of an improved relationship with the international community.

Source: The Hill

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