- The Taliban orders NGOs to prevent female employees from working
- It comes after the suspension of female students from universities
- The United Nations says the system would be a breach of humanitarian principles
- The United Nations plans to meet with the Taliban for clarification
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban-run administration on Saturday ordered all local and foreign NGOs to stop female employees from coming to work, according to a letter from the Economy Ministry, in the latest crackdown on women’s freedoms. .
The letter, which was confirmed by Economy Ministry spokesman Abd al-Rahman Habib, said the female employees were not allowed to work until further notice because some of them did not adhere to the administration’s interpretation of the Islamic dress code for women.
This comes days after the Taliban administration ordered universities to close in on women, drawing global condemnation and sparking some protests and harsh criticism inside Afghanistan.
Ramiz Alekperov, the UN’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and humanitarian coordinator, said he was “deeply concerned” by the reports in the letter, which represent “a clear violation of humanitarian principles”.
It was not immediately clear how the order would affect United Nations agencies, which have a large presence in Afghanistan to provide services amid the country’s humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs said the United Nations would attempt to meet with the Taliban leadership “to obtain clarification on the reported matter.”
The charge d’affaires in Norway, which funds aid in Afghanistan and hosted talks between the Taliban and members of civil society in January, condemned the move.
“The ban on female employees of NGOs must be rescinded immediately,” Paul Kloman Pekin tweeted. “In addition to being a blow to women’s rights, this move will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and harm the most vulnerable Afghans.”
Asked if the rules extended to UN agencies, Habib said the letter applied to organizations affiliated with the Afghan Coordination Body for Humanitarian Organisations, known as Akbar. This body does not include the United Nations, but includes more than 180 local and international NGOs.
However, the UN often contracts with NGOs registered in Afghanistan to carry out their humanitarian work.
Aid workers say female workers are critical to ensuring that women receive aid.
Afghanistan’s already ailing economy has entered crisis since the Taliban took over in 2021, as the country faces sanctions and cuts in development aid.
Humanitarian aid, intended to meet urgent needs, has provided a lifeline to millions of people. More than half of Afghanistan’s population depends on humanitarian aid, according to the International Rescue Committee.
(Kabul newsroom report) Edited by Mark Potter
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