In the highlands of the Yorkshire Moors, famous for its use in the Harry Potter films, Paul Hislop, the head of the United Nations mine action team in Afghanistan, spends his days negotiating with the Taliban.
He left Kabul shortly before the Taliban took over and is trying to find a way to return to continue his work running the United Nations Demining Program.
Hislop notes that “the country is full of explosive remnants of war, there are explosive devices that they put in place to try to disrupt government and military operations, and then there are the usual remnants of conflict, grenades, rockets and missiles, in addition to what was dropped on them.”
The irony is that the Taliban are now asking for help in removing the explosive devices they planted in the first place. “About 40% of demining teams in Afghanistan are back in action, and we would like by the end of September to reach 80 or 90%,” Ahislop confirmed.
One of these teams is all-female, and Hislop receives advice on how to find a compromise to allow them to continue working.
And if Hislop can find a way back to Kabul, especially if he can keep the female employees, it could be a useful test case for other employers hoping to work there.