Afghanistan: UN suspends some aid programs after Taliban ban



CNN

The United Nations announced on Wednesday that it had suspended some of its “time-sensitive” programs in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s ban on women NGO workers.

In a joint statement by UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and other humanitarian groups, it warned that further activities will likely have to be halted as it cannot deliver “principled” humanitarian aid without female workers.

“Excluding women from humanitarian work has immediate, life-threatening consequences for all Afghans. Some time-sensitive programs have already had to be temporarily halted due to a lack of female staff,” the statement said.

“We will strive to continue life-saving, time-sensitive activities, provided they are not impeded, while we better assess the scope, parameters and implications of this policy for the people we serve.

“But we anticipate many activities will have to be halted as we cannot provide principled humanitarian assistance without female volunteers.”

It noted the move comes at a time when over 28 million people in Afghanistan are in need of assistance as the country “struggles with the risk of famine, economic decline, deep-seated poverty and a brutal winter.”

The statement reiterated the United Nations’ condemnation of the Taliban’s curtailment of women’s rights. “We call on the de facto authorities to reconsider and reverse this policy and all policies banning women from schools, universities and public life.

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

The Taliban last week ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to prevent their female employees from coming to work and suspended university education for all female students in the country. The move was condemned around the world.

In a statement Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council expressed its “deep concern” and called for “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.”

The new restrictions are another step in the Taliban’s crackdown on Afghan women’s freedoms after taking over the country in August 2021.

Despite the Taliban’s repeated claims that they are protecting the rights of girls and women, the group has done the opposite, taking away the hard-won freedoms that women have fought tirelessly for over the past two decades.

Some of the Taliban’s most notable restrictions have been on education, with girls also being banned from secondary schools in March. The move devastated many students and their families, who told CNN their shattered dreams of becoming doctors, teachers or engineers.

At least half a dozen major foreign aid groups said they were temporarily halting operations in Afghanistan following the ban on women NGO workers.

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