4 Global Aid Groups Suspend Activities In Afghanistan After Taliban’s Ban on Women Working for NGOs

The latest: In a step towards making the Taliban realise that their barbaric decrees will have a global impact, four international aid groups have announced suspension of their programmes in the country. The aid groups include the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE.

Go deeper:

  • The suspension comes following the latest Taliban edict to ban women from working for NGOs in Afghanistan.
  • Emphasising that the IRC’s ability to deliver services rely on female staff at all levels, the organisation stressed that if they are not allowed to employ women, they will not able to deliver to those in need.
  • While, Neil Turner, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s chief for Afghanistan, said, “We have complied with all cultural norms and we simply can’t work without our dedicated female staff, who are essential for us to access women who are in desperate need of assistance.” He said that the group has 468 female staff in the country.
  • The IRC, while stating that it is dismayed and disheartened by the Taliban ban said that the exclusion of women from humanitarian service delivery will have catastrophic consequences for the Afghan people because its services depend on women workers.
  • The IRC has urged Taliban to take into consideration the grave humanitarian implications of the ban as over 97% of the population is at risk of poverty.
  • The IRC said in a statement that over the past three decades it has never had to cease delivering support in the country. The organisation added that it is committed to working with national and international NGOs, civil society organizations, the UN, and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the situation is resolved.
  • Currently, the IRC had been operating in twelve provinces across Afghanistan in the areas of emergency response, health, education, livelihoods and other life-saving interventions.
  • “IRC in Afghanistan employs over 8000 people – over 3,000 of whom are women. Our male and female staff work closely with rural and urban communities to identify needs, design and implement programming in line with cultural sensitivities and social norms,” it added.
  • Charge d’affaires to Afghanistan Karen Decker said, “As a representative of the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, I feel I have the right to an explanation of how the Taliban intends to prevent women and children from starving, when women are no longer permitted to distribute assistance to other women and children.”
  • Ramiz Alakbarov, the United Nations’ top humanitarian coordinator, said that the UN was trying to get the ban reversed and that it was a “red line for the entire humanitarian community”. He added that the Taliban’s minister of health had told the UN the agency should continue its health-related work and women could “report to work and discharge their services”.
  • Jan Egeland of the NRC said nearly 500 of the aid group’s 1,400 workers were women, and that female staff had been operating “according to all traditional values, dress code, movement, [and] separation of offices”. He said he hoped the decision would be “reversed in the next few days” and warned that millions would suffer if NGOs’ work was obstructed.

Back story: The NGO order came in a letter on Saturday from Taliban’s Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif.

  • Abdel Rahman Habib, spokesman for the Taliban’s ministry of economy, accused female workers at the foreign aid groups of breaking dress codes by not wearing hijabs.
  • It said any organization found not complying with the order will have their license revoked in Afghanistan.
  • The Economy Ministry’s order comes days after the Taliban banned female students from attending universities across the country, triggering backlash overseas and demonstrations in major Afghan cities.

Why it matters? With Afghanistan in the midst of a worsening humanitarian crisis and economic collapse, humanitarian actors have been essential in saving lives in the country over the course of the past year.

  • As Afghanistan struggles to recover from ongoing conflict and natural disasters, the IRC used to work with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects, provides safe learning spaces in rural areas, community-based education, cash distribution provides uprooted families with tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities, and helps people find livelihood opportunities as well as extensive resilience programming.

Zoom out: The IRC’s decision to suspend its activities though will have an impact on the lives of Afghans, it is a step in the right direction towards making Taliban realise that its regressive orders will meet wit a bigger reaction from the global community.

  • Taliban and its funding over the years has been more or less slightly dependent on foreign humanitarian aid flowing into the country. With global humanitarian actors taking concrete steps to drill into Taliban that their decisions are not in the right direction, there might be a reconsideration of the same.
  • However, this is still the first step and the Taliban has already passed many decrees restricting women from all spheres of life. A lot more needs to be done by the international community in order to reverse Taliban’s regressive decrees.
+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Latest Stories