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UN and top aid officials criticize Afghan rulers’ NGO ban on women — Global Issues


“The prohibition of women from participating in humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans,” they insisted.

Several aid programs have had to be halted due to a shortage of female staff, at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan need “support to survive” through harsh winters, economic collapse and the threat of famine, the agency director said. note.

In a joint statement following the Taliban’s reported decree on Saturday that Afghan women must stop working for NGOs, top UN officials insisted female staff were “key”. for every aspect of the humanitarian response in Afghanistan.”

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In particular, this is because “they have access to the population they male colleagues can’t reach”, they explained, noting that the Afghan humanitarian women “save lives”.

Principals of the United Nations and NGOs say their work must continue as “teachers, nutritionists, team leaders, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors and heads of organizations”.

Step back and progress

repeat message of the United Nations Secretary-General that the ban on NGOs would undermine the work of all organizations in Afghanistan in helping the most vulnerable communities, said the head of the United Nations Development Program (UN Development Programme)UNDP), Achim Steiner, says the latest restriction will “accelerate Afghanistan’s setback“fall into poverty.

The UNDP administrator said the damage could take decades to reverse, adding that women’s work in Afghanistan accounts for more than $1 billion in household income.

“Exclusion of women from the public sector of education and livelihoods could lead to an immediate crisis and Substantial damage to millions of Afghans in poor households who have faced serious difficulties, he has maintained.

One million women and girls face aid cuts

The head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi also condemned the Taliban’s decree.

“This ban must be lifted,” Mr. Grandi emphasizednotes that more than 500 female employees work with his agency’s 19 NGO partners in Afghanistan, where they serve nearly one million women and girls.

“The most recent restrictions will tie UNHCR Pause important activities to support the people of Afghanistan, especially women and children,” he added.

The latest directive also risks sending many families fleeing across the border as refugees, he continued, explaining that female NGO workers across Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have been “at the forefront of this effort.” efforts to find solutions for Afghans affected by four decades of conflict and repression, including millions of refugees and internally displaced people.

A nurse stands in the neonatal ward at a hospital in Gardez, Afghanistan.

© UNICEF/Mihalis Gripiotis

A nurse stands in the neonatal ward at a hospital in Gardez, Afghanistan.

Mr. Grandi said female staff have helped UNHCR reach more than 6 million Afghans since August 2021. “With so many other restrictions on women, this The new decree will have a devastating effect on the population of Afghanistan.”

According to UNHCR, about 3.4 million people are displaced inside Afghanistan, along with 2.9 million other refugees living outside the country.

Abuse of the right to be called out

in one strong statementthe UN Commission on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) also warned that the latest Taliban decree jeopardizes many basic rights in Afghanistan.

Since March, Afghanistan in fact authorities banned about one million female students from high school in the past year, and on December 20 the girls were told they could no longer attend college.

The latest ordinance banning women from working in NGOs “will not only deprive them and their families of income, but also completely erase their only social life and deprive them of the opportunity to contribute for the development of the country,” said CEDAW experts.

An Afghan female volunteer participates in an education project supported by UNHCR in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

© UNHCR/Oxygen Studio (AFG

An Afghan female volunteer participates in an education project supported by UNHCR in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Country at stake ‘for a generation’

“Excluding them also means millions of women and girls could be excluded from humanitarian activitiesIt is extremely important for a country where about six million people are at risk of going hungry.”

Warning that the move would “jeopardize an entire generation of the country”, experts also called for the immediate release of women believed to have been arrested during the protests as a result of the ban. caused by the university.

With the latest ban on universities, the country is now excluding half of its population from regular schooling, creating one of the world’s largest gender gaps, they said.

Solution must be found: Resident Coordinator

UN Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarovtold reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Thursday afternoon that the head of the UN aid mission – along with other senior officials – would travel to the country in the coming days to seek a solution. for the crisis about women’s participation in relief work and access to education.

He said “some activities” had been halted, reiterating that the UN system was fully “committed to the people” of Afghanistan and full gender equality.

The Taliban leaders are being communicated by the UN leadership to the “highest possible level” there, and Mr Alakbarov announced that an agreement has been signed with the Taliban leadership in the medical field, due to there will be “no barrier” for the women to continue with their lifesaving work there.

He stressed that delivering vital health and support services would not be possible without female staff and that it was “practically impossible” to launch any new programs without the support of women. women’s participation.

With more than 28 million Afghans in need, he added, “we need to address the bottlenecks to address the needs as systematically as possible”.

It is essential to explain the consequences of the Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls to their leadership, “and find solutions”. He stressed that, for example, it would be impossible to provide protection services to women without female staff or to reach millions of women in need using only male workers.

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