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Gordon Brown has demanded $8billion in aid be handed to Afghanistan

Gordon Brown has demanded $8billion in aid be handed to Afghanistan in exchange for guaranteeing rights for women and girls.

As the last UK plane left Afghanistan yesterday, the ex- PM said it was time to talk to new Taliban rulers about women’s access to education with the offer of a massive aid package.

He said: “G7 nations should make a bold offer of $8billion of international aid for Afghan education over the next 20 years – the same as in the last 20 years – to be overseen by UNICEF and the brave humanitarian agencies on the ground, including Education Cannot Wait, the refugee organisation that will be needed as the numbers of displaced children rise.

“And the money should come on one condition – that the rights of girls to education are upheld.

“But we must be absolutely clear with the Taliban, nationally and locally, that aid will be withdrawn if girls’ rights are not upheld.”

The treatment of women and girls in the country, many of whom have been forced to leave school or jobs, has been one of the international communities greatest concerns since the Taliban took control of the country.

Brown said that while he has little faith in the claims that the Taliban had changed from their brutal past, there were few options other than to try to propose a deal.

He said: “Taliban leaders ask us to believe they have changed from their days when they were guilty of persecuting women, and not only violating the basic rights of girls but denying them education.

“And in an interview in June, the Taliban leadership did not reassure these girls about their schooling.

“They called for ‘separation between girls and boys, women and men, in universities, schools or madrassas’.

“For the future, they say their religious leaders ‘will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not’.”

He added: “This puts in jeopardy perhaps the biggest social achievement in Afghanistan in the last 20 years – the exponential rise in education from one million to 9.5million pupils.

“At the peak, 65 per cent of young girls were attending first grade and 3.6million girls were benefiting from primary or secondary education.

“Many who are among the 90,000 girls now in further education are training to be doctors, scientists and lawyers.”

Brown said an expert team should be appointed to ensure any agreements reached with Afghan leaders would be fulfilled.

He named Liz Grant, an assistant principal of global health and director of the global health academy at the University of Edinburgh, to keep track of any violations of womens’ rights.

He said: “By monitoring what’s happened, Professor Liz Grant and her team will ensure that whether it be forced marriage or trafficking, no known abuse will go unreported and undocumented.

“Our obligation is to help the children of Afghanistan grow up to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Brown, 70, was chancellor in prime minister Tony Blair’s government when the UK joined America in the war on terror in the wake of 9/11. He succeeded Blair as PM in 2007 and served until 2010.

His wife Sarah is founder and president of the children’s charity Theirworld.

The former Labour MP, who represented Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, told how he’s now worried about a mass exodus into neighbouring countries.

He said: “With the airport closed, exit through the borders of Pakistan or Iran is now the best way out.

“But my thoughts are now firmly on what happens to the millions who are in Afghanistan with no hope of ever leaving.”



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