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4 Employees of Germany’s Main Aid Agency Arrested in Afghanistan

Taliban authorities in Afghanistan arrested four local employees of Germany’s main government-owned aid agency, according to the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“I can confirm that the local employees of GIZ are in custody although we have not received any official information on why they are detained,” a ministry spokesperson told the Associated Press in a statement late Saturday.

“We are taking this situation very seriously and are working through all channels available to us to ensure that our colleagues are released,” she added.

The German Agency for International Cooperation, or GIZ, is owned by the German government. It operates in around 120 countries worldwide, offering projects and services in the areas of “economic development, employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security,” according to the agency’s website.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, after the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country. Many foreign missions, including the German embassy in Kabul, closed their offices.

The Taliban initially promised a more moderate approach than during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001 but gradually reimposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Girls were banned from education beyond the sixth grade and women were barred from working, studying, traveling without a male companion, and even going to parks or bathhouses and were forced to cover up from head to toe.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in September that human rights are in a state of collapse in Afghanistan more than two years following the Taliban’s return to power and stripped back institutional protections at all levels.

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