ISLAMABAD -- The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has accused Taliban authorities of harassing its Afghan female employees, urging local officials to respect all its staff in a statement Monday.
“There has been an emerging pattern of harassment of Afghan U.N. female staff by the de facto authorities,” the statement said, referring to the country's Taliban rulers.
Three Afghan women working for the U.N. were recently detained briefly and questioned by "armed security agents of the de facto authorities,” it added.
The U.N. called for an immediate end to all such acts of “intimidation and harassment targeting its Afghan female staff,” and reminded local authorities of their obligations under international law to guarantee the safety and security of all U.N. personnel operating in Afghanistan.
A statement released by the Taliban late Monday evening denied that local authorities had “detained” any U.N. employees.
The statement added in southern Kandahar province authorities had stopped a group of women, but when they realized they were U.N. employees, stopped questioning them.
A year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, teenage girls are still barred from school and women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, with only their eyes showing. Hard-liners appear to hold sway in the Taliban-led government, which imposed severe restrictions on access to education and jobs for girls and women, despite initial promises to the contrary.
On Saturday, Taliban authorities shut down five girls’ schools above the sixth grade in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia province which had briefly opened after a recommendation by tribal elders and school principals.
Earlier this month, four girls’ schools in Gardez, the provincial capital, and one in the Samkani district began operating without formal permission from the Taliban Education Ministry.
On Saturday, all five schools were once again closed by authorities.
The U.N. has repeatedly urged the Taliban to ensure respect for international human rights in the country.