Taliban ban women’s work in NGOs, jeopardize humanitarian aid By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Taliban fighter is seen during the Taliban flag raising ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. March 31, 2022. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File

KABUL, Dec 24 (Reuters) – The Taliban-led Afghan government on Saturday ordered all local and foreign NGOs not to allow their staff to work, in a move the United Nations says will affect humanitarian operations just as the boreal winter sets in. country already plunged into an economic crisis.

Una map del Ministerio de Economía, confirmed por el portavoz Abdulrahman Habib, decía que no se permitirá trabajar a las empleadas de organizations non gubernamentales (NGOs) the women.

The move comes days after the government ordered universities closed to women, prompting global condemnation and sparking protests and heavy criticism in Afghanistan.

These two decisions are the latest restrictions imposed on women, likely to undermine the Taliban government’s efforts to gain international recognition and remove sanctions that are severely hampering the economy.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted (NYSE:) his “deep concern” over the move, which will “disrupt life-saving and life-saving assistance to millions.”

“Women are essential to humanitarian operations around the world. This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people,” she added.

Ramiz Alakbarov, UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan and humanitarian coordinator, told Reuters that although the UN had not been ordered, contracted NGOs were carrying out most of their activities and would be greatly affected.

“A lot of our programs will be affected,” he said, because they need female staff to assess humanitarian needs and identify beneficiaries, otherwise they won’t be able to get aid programs up and running.

The international aid agency AfghanAid said it was immediately suspending operations while it consulted with other organizations, and other NGOs took similar action.

The potential danger to aid programs that millions of Afghans have access to comes when more than half the population depends on humanitarian aid, aid agencies say, and during the nation’s coldest season. mountainous.

“There is never a good time for something like this…but this particular time is very unfortunate because during the winter people are most in need and Afghan winters are very harsh,” said Alakbarov.

He added that his office would consult with NGOs and UN agencies on Sunday and attempt to meet with Taliban authorities for an explanation.

Aid workers say female workers are essential in a country where cultural norms and customs largely prevent men from providing aid to female beneficiaries.

“An important principle of delivering humanitarian aid is the ability of women to participate independently and unhindered in its distribution, so if we cannot do this in accordance with these principles, donors will not fund any this guy,” Alakbarov said.

When asked if the rules directly included UN agencies, Habib said the letter applied to organizations under the coordinating body of Afghan humanitarian organizations, known as ACBAR. This body does not include the UN, but it does include over 180 local and international NGOs.

According to the letter, in the event of non-compliance, their licenses would be suspended.

The Afghan economy, in turmoil since the Taliban took power in 2021, faces sanctions, cuts in development aid and a freeze on central bank assets.

An estimated 28 million Afghans will need humanitarian assistance next year, according to AfghanAid.

(Editorial reporting Kabul; additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)

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