Conflicts & War

UN suspends Afghan aid programs after Taliban ban on women

Kabul, Dec 29 (EFE).- The United Nations has stopped some aid activities in Afghanistan after a Taliban decision to ban Afghan women from working in humanitarian non-governmental organizations.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, the heads of other UN agencies and several aid groups said in a joint statement that the ban “is a major blow for vulnerable communities, for women, for children, and for the entire country.”

“Already, some time-critical programs have had to stop temporarily due to lack of female staff,” the statement said.

The ban comes at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan, including millions of women and children, require assistance to survive as the country grapples with the risk of famine conditions, economic decline, entrenched poverty, and a brutal winter.

The statement said banning women from humanitarian work “has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans.”

The aid groups noted that female staff were key to every aspect of the humanitarian response as they could reach out to populations that their male colleagues could not.

“They save lives. Their professional expertise is indispensable. Their participation in aid delivery is not negotiable and must continue.”

The statement said that while humanitarian organizations would continue to engage the de facto Taliban government, “we cannot ignore the operational constraints now facing us as a humanitarian community.”

They assured that the aid groups would endeavor to continue lifesaving, time-critical activities unless impeded.

“But we foresee that many activities will need to be paused as we cannot deliver principled humanitarian assistance without female aid workers.”

They reiterated their commitment to deliver “independent, principled, lifesaving assistance to all the women, men and children who need it.”

The UN and other aid agencies urged the Taliban to reconsider and reverse the decision banning women from schools, universities and public life.

“No country can afford to exclude half of its population from contributing to society.”

The Islamist regime in Afghanistan that returned to power in August 2021 has imposed a series of restrictions on women like 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.

Last weekend, the government banned women from working in nonprofits, arguing that they were violating Islamic law by not using the veil, a decision that resulted in several NGO announcing their withdrawal from the country in protest. EFE


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