UN halts some programmes in Afghanistan after ban on women aid workers

The UN says some “time-critical” programs in Afghanistan have been halted.
No country can afford to exclude half its population: UN aid chief.
Four large global groups suspend operations, unable to run programs without female staff.

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations said on Wednesday that some “critical” programs in Afghanistan have been temporarily halted and warned that many other activities may also have to stop due to a ban by the Taliban-led administration on female aid workers.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, the heads of UN agencies and various aid groups said in a joint statement that the “participation of women in aid delivery is non-negotiable and must continue”, and They asked the authorities to reverse the decision.

“Banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans. Some time-critical programs have already had to be temporarily halted due to a lack of female staff,” the report read. release.

“We cannot ignore the operational constraints we now face as a humanitarian community,” he said. “We will endeavor to continue vital and urgent activities… But we anticipate that many activities will need to stop, as we cannot provide principled humanitarian assistance without female aid workers.”

The ban on female aid workers was announced on Saturday by the Taliban-led administration. It follows a ban imposed last week on women attending universities. The girls were prevented from attending secondary school in March.

“No country can afford to exclude half its population from contributing to society,” reads the statement, which was also signed by the heads of UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations High Commissioner. commissioners for refugees and human rights.

Separately, 12 countries and the EU jointly called on the Taliban to lift the ban on female aid workers and allow women and girls to return to school.

The statement was issued by the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, the United States and the EU.

The ban on female aid workers “puts at risk millions of Afghans who depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival,” the statement said.

Four major global groups, whose humanitarian aid has reached millions of Afghans, said on Sunday they were suspending their operations because they could not run their programs without female staff.

The UN statement said the ban on female aid workers “comes at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan…require assistance to survive as the country grapples with the risk of famine conditions, economic decline, entrenched poverty and a brutal winter”. .”

UN agencies and aid groups, including World Vision International, CARE International, Save the Children US, Mercy Corps and InterAction, pledged to “stand firm in our commitment to provide independent, principled, and save the lives of all women, men and children.” Who needs it”.

The Taliban seized power in August last year. They largely banned girls’ education when they were last in power two decades ago, but said their policies had changed. The Taliban-led administration has not been recognized internationally.

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