Disasters & Accidents

Taliban not allowing women aid workers in Afghanistan, says HRW

Kabul, Nov 4 (EFE).- The nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Thursday that the Taliban have not been allowing most female humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, a situation that is increasingly aggravating the country’s humanitarian crisis.

“The Taliban’s severe restrictions on women aid workers are preventing desperately needed lifesaving aid from reaching Afghans, especially women, girls, and women-headed households,” said HRW’s associate women’s rights director Heather Barr.

According to the nonprofit, when a coordinate plan was drawn up for allowing humanitarian agencies, the Taliban allowed only three of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan where female workers would be permitted to function.

“In over half the country, women aid workers face severe restrictions, such as requirements for a male family member to escort them while they do their jobs, making it difficult or impossible for them to do their job effectively,” HRW said in its statement.

Deeba Farhamand, founder and head of a local NGO providing humanitarian assistance to orphaned and widowed children, told EFE that due to the Taliban restrictions, she can no longer do her job like before and now always needs to be accompanied by a male guardian.

On the other hand, Jawad Sargar, a member of Taliban’s committee on information and culture, told EFE that no statement banning women aid workers has been issued by the government.

HRW said this ban is detrimental to Afghan women who suffer the daily consequences of the country’s humanitarian crisis, especially widows, minors and women with disabilities.

“Female aid workers in Afghanistan play an important role in reaching and assessing the needs of women and girls and female-headed households, especially because the society is often deeply segregated by gender,” said the statement.

It revealed that the Islamists have also restricted the types of work that female humanitarian workers can do – in 11 provinces, women aid workers can only work in health and education programs.

Since the Taliban took control of the country on Aug.15, they have systematically dismantled the established systems in the country to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, according to HRW.

Mahbooba Saraj, who runs a nonprofit for women, told EFE that “most female social activists face violence” and most human rights organizations cannot continue their work under the current circumstances.

Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian crisis due to widespread loss of income, shortage of liquidity, rising prices and suspension of funds for assistance which constituted at least 75 percent of the budget of the deposed Afghan government.

In September, UNICEF warned that at least one million children were likely to suffer severe malnutrition this year and could die without treatment, whereas United Nations Development Program estimated that by mid-2022, 97 percent of Afghans could be below the poverty line.

“Taliban leaders have been demanding that donors address the unfolding crisis by unlocking aid funding for Afghanistan, but the Taliban’s misogynistic policies are blocking aid from those needing it most,” Barr said. EFE


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