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Taliban wants UN to continue relief work as Afghanistan is hit hard by drought

Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan

The Taliban wants the United Nations to continue its humanitarian work in Afghanistan as the country is reeling from a severe drought, but the UN says it will insist on respect for women's rights and access to all civilians if the aid has to keep flowing. 

In an interview with Reuters, Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, urged Western donors to keep funding its work in a country where nearly half the population depends on life-saving assistance.

Half of all Afghan children under the age of five already suffer from acute malnutrition, as the country has been hit by a second drought in four years.

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"You have a kind of combination effect of displacement caused by war and by military hostilities compounded with displacement caused by drought and by the difficult economic conditions," Alakbarov told Reuters from Kabul.

Meanwhile UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the international community to “speak with one voice” to uphold human rights, and voiced particular concern over mounting violations against women and girls. “It is essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected,” he stressed.

“They are looking to the international community for support — the same international community that assured them that opportunities would be expanded, education would be guaranteed, freedoms would spread and rights would be secured.”