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The statement was delivered by the Permanent Representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Norway, on behalf of Albania, Brazil, France, Gabon, Ireland, Mexico, UK, US, Norway and UAE.

This afternoon, the Security Council will hear a very important briefing by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan on the Taliban’s reversal of their earlier promise for girls to be able to return to school beyond the 6th grade.

I’m making this statement on behalf of the UAE, Norway, Albania, Brazil, France, Gabon, Ireland, Mexico, the UK, and the United States.

Our message is clear: All girls in Afghanistan should be able to go to school.

This week – more than a million Afghan girls were getting ready to finally be able to return to school. Their hopes were dashed at the last minute at the school gates, when they learned that their right to an education will continue to be denied due to an arbitrary decision.

The decision is a reversal of the commitments the Taliban themselves have made in recent weeks and months as part of the ongoing engagement with the international community. It is a profoundly disturbing set-back.

Education is a universal right for all children. That includes the girls of Afghanistan.

Some may ask, why education is a matter for the Security Council?

The answer is simple. Afghanistan is at the brink of collapse. In order for Afghanistan to secure a safe and stable future, it simply cannot miss out on the talent and potential, and deprive half its population of education. Education is a key building brick of every society.

By this statement, Members of the Security Council send a unified message to the Taliban: to open the schools. And to provide a safe learning environment for all children and youth in the country.

Last week, the UNAMA mandate was extended for one year. And the UN and the international community stand ready to continue supporting the Afghan people – including education for all children.

Millions of girls in Afghanistan were left at home in tears this week. We cannot let them down.