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U.N. Suspends Some Afghanistan Programs After Taliban Bans Women from Working

WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations announced on Wednesday that it has suspended certain “time-critical” activities in Afghanistan to protest the Taliban edict barring women from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs.) Such organizations are heavily involved in delivering food and medicine to the large number of displaced, impoverished, and oppressed people in Afghanistan.

“Banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans. Already, some time-critical programs have had to stop temporarily due to lack of female staff,” said a joint statement from several U.N. agencies and outside aid groups on Wednesday.

The U.N. pointed out that humanitarian operations in Afghanistan rely on women as “teachers, nutrition experts, team leaders, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors, and heads of organizations.”

“They have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach and are critical to safeguarding the communities we serve. They save lives. Their professional expertise is indispensable. Their participation in aid delivery is not negotiable and must continue,” the statement asserted.

“We will endeavor to continue lifesaving, time-critical activities unless impeded while we better assess the scope, parameters and consequences of this directive for the people we serve. But we foresee that many activities will need to be paused as we cannot deliver principled humanitarian assistance without female aid workers,” the U.N. and affiliated agencies said.

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