Four foreign aid groups suspend work in Afghanistan after Taliban bans women workers



CNN

Four foreign aid groups said on Sunday they would move to temporarily suspend their operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban. Women employees in non-government organizations were banned From coming to work.

“Without our female staff we would not be able to effectively reach the most desperate children, women and men in Afghanistan,” aid agencies Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International said in a joint statement on Sunday. Another international aid group, Afghanistanite, issued a similar announcement separately on Sunday.

“If women had not driven our response, we would not have collectively reached the millions of Afghans in need by August 2021. Beyond the impact on providing life-saving aid, this would affect thousands of jobs amid a massive economic crisis,” the statement said. The heads of three NGOs signed.

“While we make it clear in this announcement, we are suspending our plans to demand that our life-saving assistance continue in Afghanistan equally with men and women,” the statement added.

The Taliban administration All local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were ordered on Saturday to stop their female employees from coming to work, according to a letter sent by the Ministry of Economy to all licensed NGOs. Failure to comply will result in the cancellation of the licenses of the said NGOs, the ministry said.

David Wright, chief operating officer of Save the Children International, told CNN on Monday that the ban left “tens of thousands of vulnerable mothers and children out of reach across the country.”

“We can’t go to work because we need our female colleagues to help us get access to women and children. If you don’t have female staff you can’t reach young mothers or young children educationally because it’s not appropriate to have all male staff in Afghanistan dealing with young women or children,” she said. .

In the letter, the ministry cited non-compliance with Islamic dress code and other laws and regulations as reasons for the decision.

“There have been recent serious complaints regarding non-compliance with Islamic hijab and other Islamic Emirate laws and regulations,” the letter said, resulting in “a directive to suspend the employment of all female employees of national and international non-governmental organizations . . .”

Mark the new restrictions One more step The Taliban’s brutal crackdown on Afghan women’s freedoms has followed the hardline Islamist group’s takeover of the country in August 2021.

Although the Taliban have repeatedly claimed to protect the rights of women and girls, in reality they have done the opposite and taken away the freedoms that women have fought tirelessly for over the past twenty years.

“The Supreme Leader is doing everything he can … to make women as powerless as possible, even if other factions say otherwise,” Afghan human rights activist Pashtana Durrani told CNN on Sunday, referring to Afghanistan’s Supreme Leader Alaiqadar Amirul Momineen.

“The Taliban don’t care. They want women to be as limited as possible, especially the Supreme Leader,” she added.

Earlier this week, the Taliban government Suspended university education For all female students in Afghanistan.

In a televised news conference on Thursday, the Taliban’s minister of higher education said it had banned women from universities who did not adhere to Islamic dress codes and other “Islamic values”. action provoked outrage Among women in Afghanistan.

A A crowd of women came to the streets in Herat on Saturday to protest against the university ban. Videos of Taliban officers using water cannons to disperse female protesters are circulating on social media. Women were seen running from the water cannon and chanting “cowards” at the officers.

Some of the Taliban’s strike restrictions revolve around education, with girls barred from returning to secondary schools in March. The move left many students and their families devastated They described their shattered dreams to CNN Becoming doctors, teachers or engineers.

The United Nations on Saturday condemned the Taliban’s NGO announcement and said it was trying to secure a meeting with the Taliban leadership to seek clarification.

“Women must play an important role in all aspects of life, including in the humanitarian response. Banning women from working violates women’s fundamental rights and is a clear violation of humanitarian principles,” said the UN. “This latest decision will further hurt the most vulnerable, especially women and girls.”

UNICEF said the directive “will have major consequences for the rights of women and girls (and) the provision of health, nutrition and education services for children”.

Amnesty International called for the ban to be “immediately withdrawn” and for the Taliban to “stop abusing their power”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday was particularly concerned about Afghanistan’s health system and the future of female patients.

The ICRC said it supports 45 health structures in Afghanistan, including hospitals and medical schools. Among other things, it pays the salaries of 10,483 health workers – 33% of whom are women.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also condemned the move on Saturday. “Taliban ban on women humanitarian aid in Afghanistan disrupts life-saving aid for millions,” she wrote on Twitter. “Women are at the center of humanitarian operations around the world. This decision will be devastating for the people of Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said US officials should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

“Those organizations operating in Afghanistan are obliged to comply with the laws and regulations of our country,” he tweeted on Sunday, adding, “We will not allow irresponsible words or threats against the decisions or authorities of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Under the heading of humanitarian aid.”

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