Saturday, March 2, 2024

Intl. aid NGOs stop work in Afghanistan after Taliban ban on female staff

Four major international aid groups have suspended their operations in Afghanistan following a decision by the Taliban to ban women from working at NGOs.

Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE have announced that they could not effectively reach people in desperate need without the women in their workforces. The NGO ban was introduced a day earlier, allegedly because women were not wearing the Islamic headscarf correctly.

The four NGOs have been providing healthcare, education, child protection and nutrition services and support amid plummeting humanitarian conditions.

The Taliban takeover in August 2021 sent Afghanistan’s economy into a tailspin and transformed the country, driving millions into poverty and hunger. Foreign aid stopped almost overnight. Sanctions on Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s currency reserves have already restricted access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the country’s aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.

The NGO order came in a letter on Saturday from the economy minister, Qari Din Mohammed Hanif. The letter said any organisation found not complying with the order would have its licence revoked.

The flurry of rulings from the all-male Taliban government is reminiscent of its rule in the late 1990s, when it banned women from education and public spaces and outlawed music, television and many sports.

The ban on female students attending universities triggered demonstrations in several Afghan cities and backlash overseas.

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