UN aid chief seeks to prevent Afghan women workers from turning away

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UNITED NATIONS – The UN humanitarian chief and the leaders of two major international aid agencies are in Afghanistan after a visit last week by a delegation led by the UN’s most senior woman with the same goal – reversing the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls including a ban on Afghan women working for national and global humanitarian organizations.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths was in the Afghan capital on Monday with Janti Soeripto, CEO of Save The Children US, and Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, additional secretary-general of Care International on Omar Abdi, the deputy. executive director of UNICEF, the UN children’s agency.

Dujarric said the Taliban’s ban last month on Afghan women working for non-governmental organizations has halted some aid programs and “fears that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan will worsen.” already worse. “

An estimated 28 million Afghans are in need of food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance, “a 350% increase in just five years,” according to the latest report released Monday on the Humanitarian Needs Overview for Afghanistan, Dujarric said.

The Deputy UN Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said last Friday that the delegation led by the UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, found that some Taliban officials were more open to women’s rights. to bring it back but others were clearly against it.

“The main thing is to reconcile the (Taliban) officials they have met who have been more helpful with those who haven’t,” Haq said.

Mohammed, a former Cabinet minister in Nigeria and a Muslim who is the highest-ranking woman in the UN, was accompanied on the trip by Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women which promotes gender equality and women’s rights, and Deputy Secretary General for political affairs Khaled Khiari.

The UN team met with the Taliban in the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, but the UN did not release the names of the Taliban officials. The meetings focused on the restrictive measures the Taliban have imposed on women and girls since they took power in August 2021, in the final weeks of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces after 20 years of war. .

Griffiths is expected to focus in particular on reversing the December ban on Afghan women working for NGOs. The UN has emphasized that Afghan women are essential in delivering humanitarian aid to civilians, most of whom are women and children.

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