UN meets with Taliban minister after ban on women

KABUL (HPD) — The top UN official in Kabul met Monday with a representative of the Taliban government following the decision to ban women from working for non-governmental organizations, the United Nations mission said.

The ban has already led four international organizations to suspend their operations in Afghanistan, raising the possibility that millions of people will be left without food, education, health care or other services during the cold winter.

Aid officials have warned that excluding women from NGO work will have catastrophic consequences for the population, depriving them of necessary assistance.

The move — the latest among several that have curtailed women’s freedoms and rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power last year — was announced by Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif on Saturday. It was allegedly imposed because some NGO employees were not wearing the Islamic veil called hijab correctly.

Hanif said that any organization that violates the regulations would lose its license to operate in the country.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said in a tweet that its director Ramiz Alakbarov met with Hanif on Monday and asked him to lift the ban.

“Millions of Afghans need humanitarian assistance and it is vital to lift the obstacles for it,” the UN declared without giving further details about the meeting.

The four international organizations suspended their operations in Afghanistan stating that they could not effectively reach the people without their female staff.

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