Nonprofits reassess role in Afghanistan after ban on female employees

Kabul, Dec 26 (EFE).- The Taliban’s ban of female workers in non-governmental organizations has left the humanitarian sector in Afghanistan in uncertainty, several agencies told EFE on Monday, as international nonprofits announce their departure from the country.

Save the Children, CARE and the Norwegian Refugee Council, in a joint statement Sunday, announced the suspension of their programs in Afghanistan, a measure also adopted by the International Rescue Committee.

However, many other organizations remain undecided, pending the decision of the Coordinating Body of Agencies for Afghan Aid (ACBAR), made up of some 100 Afghan and 83 international organizations.

“For now some of the international NGOs have stopped their activities in the country, but the final decision will be taken with the coordination of ACBAR and all the NGOs in the country,” ACBAR coordinator Zukrullah Sayees told EFE.

The regional manager for southeastern Afghanistan of CARE International, Abdul Malik Muslim, told EFE that “for now, our top management has advised us to be at home against the decision of the authorities.”

“Still it is not clear whether we will back to the office or not but all the NGOs will be waiting for a joint decision of ACBAR,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday urged the Taliban to revoke the ban on women in non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan.

Acting UNAMA head Ramiz Alakbarov met with Taliban Economy Minister Mohammad Hanif in Kabul and called “for reversal of decision to ban women from NGO & INGO humanitarian work,” the UN body tweeted.

“Millions of Afghans need humanitarian assistance and removing barriers is vital,” UNAMA added.

Economy ministry spokesperson Rahman Habib, responding to the situation, told EFE that that both sides “discussed the different ways for better implementation of the humanitarian aids and projects of the United Nations Organizations in the country.”

According to the fundamentalists, Alakbarov “assured the acting minister regarding the implementation of the projects of the United Nations Organizations in Afghanistan with consideration of law and values of the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) of Afghanistan.”

On Saturday, the Taliban government issued an order for all NGOs operating in the country to suspend their female employees, and Economy Minister Hanif threatened to cancel the licenses of all organizations that did not comply.

The latest curb comes days after the Taliban banned university education for women, following other restrictions imposed by the regime since the insurgents seized power, such as banning teenage girls from attending school, segregation of men and women in public places, making it mandatory for women to wear the veil in public and be accompanied by a male relative on long journeys.

Even though the fundamentalists promised last year to respect women’s rights in order to gain international recognition, the reality of women in Afghanistan is increasingly similar to the time under the previous Taliban regime (1996-2001), when they were totally excluded from public life without any possibility to study or work. EFE


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