ISLAMABAD (AP) — Leaders of major aid groups are pressuring the Taliban to reverse its decision to bar Afghan women from working for domestic and international non-governmental groups, the humanitarian chief of the Taliban said Wednesday. the UN.
The Taliban’s decision last month to ban women from NGO work prompted major international aid agencies to suspend operations in Afghanistan, although some have since resumed work in parts of the country. It has also raised fears that millions of people will be deprived of essential services – some 28 million Afghans, more than half of the country’s population, need urgent humanitarian assistance.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and heads of the Care International, Save the Children US and UNICEF programs are in Afghanistan this week, following a visit by a high-level UN delegation the last week who sought to persuade the Taliban to end their crackdown on women. and girls, including its ban on Afghan women working for national and global humanitarian organizations.
Speaking from Kabul, Griffiths said the purpose of the visit was to impress upon the Taliban the importance of setting up aid operations and allowing women to work there. The message from the delegation was simple, he said, that the ban makes their job more difficult.
“What I heard from everyone I met, that they understood the need and the right of Afghan women to work, and that they will be working on a set of guidelines that we will see published in in due course, that will meet those requirements,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths and the delegation did not travel to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement and where the ban was issued by order of the reclusive Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzdaza.
Griffiths acknowledged Akhundzada’s high-profile status, but said there were many important voices among Taliban officials across the country.
“I don’t think it’s just about asking one man to take responsibility and change an edict,” he said. “There is a collective responsibility for this edict, and I hope we build a collective will to compensate for its ban.
Save the Children’s Janti Soeripto, who is part of the visiting delegation, said there had been meetings with eight ministries in two days and that some among the Taliban understood better than others the need to cancel the ‘prohibition.
“There’s resistance, they don’t want to be seen turning around,” she said. “If people don’t see the consequences as viscerally as we see them, people will feel less inclined.”