3 NGOs stop working in Afghanistan due to ban on female employees

KABUL (HPD) — Three foreign humanitarian organizations suspended operations in Afghanistan on Sunday following the decision by the country’s Taliban rulers to ban women from working for local and international non-governmental organizations.

Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE said they could not effectively reach children, women and children in desperate need of help in Afghanistan without their female staff.

The Taliban’s decision has received international criticism. The United States claimed that the veto would interrupt assistance to millions of people that is vital and saves lives.

The Afghan economy went into free fall last year after the Taliban seized control of the country and transformed it, plunging millions of people into poverty and hunger.

International aid stopped almost immediately. Sanctions on the Taliban rulers, the suspension of bank transfers and the freezing of billions of Afghan asset reserves have already restricted access to the global institutions and currencies that kept the country’s economy dependent on aid before. the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.

“Women are crucial to humanitarian operations around the world,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday. “This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people.”

The NGO order was part of a letter from Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif. Any organization found to be in breach of the order will have its license to operate in Afghanistan revoked, he said. It is a new blow to women’s rights and freedoms since the Taliban seized power last year and follows extensive restrictions on education, employment, clothing and movement.

The succession of edicts by the all-male, religiously motivated Taliban government echoes the group’s previous rule in the 1990s, when they expelled women from education and public spaces and outlawed music, television and much more. sports.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said he was dismayed by reports of the order to NGOs.

“The United Nations and its partners, including national and international non-governmental organizations, help more than 28 million Afghans who depend on humanitarian aid to survive,” it said in a statement.

The order from the Ministry of Economy was published just days after the Taliban banned women from attending university across the country, prompting international condemnation and demonstrations in large Afghan cities.

Around midnight on Saturday in the western city of Herat, where earlier protests had been dispersed with water cannons, people opened their windows and chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) in solidarity with the university students.

In the southern city of Kandahar, also on Saturday, hundreds of male students boycotted their end-of-semester exams at Mirwais Neeka University. One of them told The Associated Press that Taliban forces had tried to disperse the crowd as it left the evidence room.

“They tried to disperse us, so we chanted slogans, then others joined in with the slogans,” said Akhbari, who gave only his last name. “We refused to move and the Taliban thought we were protesting. The Taliban started firing their rifles into the air. I saw that they hit two boys, one of them on the head”.

A spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, Ataullah Zaid, denied there was a protest. Some people pretended to be students and teachers, he said, but were stopped by students and security forces.

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