Taliban bans Afghan girls from jobs with NGOs; key teams halt work

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have issued one other sweeping ban on girls in public life, barring feminine Afghan staff from working at worldwide organizations. The Economic system Ministry introduced the choice in an announcement Saturday, saying that “all female employees who are working in their respective departments should stop their work until further notice.”

On Sunday, at the very least 4 main worldwide assist teams mentioned they might halt operations in Afghanistan in gentle of the announcement.

“We cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff,” Washington-based Save the Youngsters, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Geneva-based Care Worldwide mentioned in a joint assertion.

The teams mentioned that they had stopped packages till they may get extra “clarity” about the ban.

The International Rescue Committee, headquartered in New York — which employs some 8,000 Afghans, 3,000 of whom are women — said in a separate statement Sunday that it would also halt operations.

In its Saturday statement, the Economy Ministry warned that any international organization that does not comply with the new ban will see its work permit revoked.

The ministry said the decision was made after “serious complaints” that ladies working for nongovernmental organizations weren’t observing conservative Islamic costume. Earlier this yr, the Taliban ordered all Afghan girls to put on head-to-toe coverings in public.

Teachers and students in a Kabul school express fear that the Taliban’s ban on higher eduction for girls will extend into lower grades. (Video: AP)

The move comes as Afghanistan faces a dire humanitarian crisis, with near-universal poverty and more than two-thirds of Afghans expected to need humanitarian aid in 2023. International NGOs have played a critical role in providing basic assistance and keeping Afghanistan’s health-care system afloat, particularly after the Taliban took power last year. Afghan and foreign women have continued to work with these organizations since the Taliban takeover, and are often uniquely positioned to provide aid to women in the deeply conservative country.

Saturday’s announcement came just days after the Taliban banned Afghan women from attending university, a decision that harms thousands of women nationwide and could further constrict their role in the workplace at a time when Afghanistan is already struggling economically.

Representatives from the United Nations and international NGOs held an emergency meeting Sunday to consider suspending operations and plan a coordinated response.

The Taliban’s announcement did not specify whether the ban applies to foreign women working for NGOs, but previous restrictions have applied only to Afghan women.

Taliban spokesperson Abdulrahman Habib told Reuters that the decision concerns NGOs regulated by the coordinating body for humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan, which licenses about 180 local and international aid agencies but has no oversight over the United Nations.

European Union Overseas Coverage Chief Josep Borrell mentioned Sunday that he “will assess” the ban’s affect “on the EU’s ability to continue providing assistance to Afghans in need.”

“Together with other providers of assistance to the people of Afghanistan, the EU will have to consider what consequences this decision, and the recent decision by the Taliban to close universities for women, will have on their engagement with our countries and organizations,” he mentioned.

One Afghan girl working for a global group in Kabul mentioned she burst into tears when she heard the newest information, calling it “shocking and disappointing.”

“This is like losing our hopes,” she mentioned. “We don’t have the opportunity to work — I am speechless.”

She mentioned she obtained an electronic mail from the human assets division at her group instructing her to make money working from home till additional discover. She mentioned she feels “lucky” to nonetheless be capable of work in any respect, for now — although it means she is pressured to rely on the web by way of her cell phone and cope with the Afghan capital’s frequent electrical energy cuts. On the workplace, she had WiFi and a generator.

The girl, who spoke on the situation of anonymity for worry of reprisals, mentioned she is the principle breadwinner in her household — supporting her aged mother and father and her husband, who’s simply ending college. She additionally covers the academic bills of considered one of her younger nephews. “I cannot even imagine” shedding that earnings, she mentioned.

The United Nations mentioned Saturday that it was “profoundly concerned” in regards to the order and would search readability from Taliban officers. “Any such order would violate the most fundamental rights of women, as well as be a clear breach of humanitarian principles,” the U.N. Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs mentioned in an announcement.

“The U.N. in Afghanistan and its partners condemn the reported order and remind the de facto authorities that taking away the free will of women to choose their own fate, disempowering and excluding them systematically from all aspects of public and political life takes the country backward, jeopardizing efforts for any meaningful peace or stability in the country,” the assertion added.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N. secretary common’s deputy particular consultant for Afghanistan, known as the order “a clear breach of humanitarian principles.”

He mentioned U.N. workplaces had not obtained the letter from Taliban officers outlining the order, so it’s unclear whether or not the brand new rule will apply to feminine staff of the United Nations. Regardless, the ban will affect U.N. initiatives, he mentioned, since companies depend on NGOs to implement lots of their packages.

“Attending to the needs cannot be done without equal participation of women and men,” he mentioned.

Feminine assist staff are important in delivering badly wanted assist, he mentioned, since “you cannot send male staff to assess the needs of the households and to speak to women.”

Alakbarov mentioned the United Nations will attempt to persuade the Taliban to alter course, making clear that if girls will not be allowed to work, “we will not be able to assist.”

In a tweet, Amnesty Worldwide known as the brand new order “yet another deplorable attempt to erase women from the political, social and economic spaces.”

Parker and Berger reported from Washington.

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