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Three foreign aid groups said on Sunday they were preparing to temporarily suspend operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban banned female workers of non-governmental organizations from coming to work.

“We cannot effectively reach the children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff,” aid organizations Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International said in a statement on Sunday. spouse.

“Without the women driving our response, we would not have jointly reached millions of Afghans in need since August 2021. Beyond the impact on the delivery of life-saving aid, this will affect thousands of ‘jobs in the midst of a huge economic crisis,’ the statement said. , signed by the heads of the three NGOs.

“While we obtain clarification on this announcement, we are suspending our programs, demanding that men and women can also continue our lifesaving assistance in Afghanistan,” the statement added.

The Taliban administration on Saturday ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to prevent their female employees from coming to work, according to a letter from the Ministry of Economy sent to all approved NGOs. Failure to comply will result in the revocation of the licenses of said NGOs, the ministry said.

In the letter, the ministry cites non-compliance with Islamic dress rules and other laws and regulations as reasons for its decision.

“Lately, there have been serious complaints regarding non-compliance with the Islamic hijab and other laws and regulations of the Islamic emirate,” the letter said, adding that accordingly “directives are given to suspend work of all employees of national and international non-governmental organizations”. .”

Earlier this week, the Taliban government suspended university education for all female students in Afghanistan.

In a televised press conference on Thursday, the Taliban Minister for Higher Education said they had banned women from entering universities for not following Islamic dress rules and other “Islamic values”, citing female students traveling without a male guardian. This decision sparked outrage among women in Afghanistan.

A group of women took to the streets of Herat city on Saturday to protest the university ban. Video footage circulating on social media shows Taliban officials using a water cannon to disperse protesters. Girls could be seen running from the water cannon and chanting “cowards” at officials.

The new restrictions mark another step in the Taliban’s brutal crackdown on Afghan women’s freedoms, following the radical Islamist group’s takeover of the country in August 2021.

Although the Taliban have repeatedly claimed that they will protect the rights of girls and women, they have in fact done the opposite, stripping away the hard-won freedoms they have fought tirelessly for over the past two decades.

Some of its starkest restrictions relate to education, with girls also banned from returning to secondary schools in March. The decision devastated many students and their families, who told CNN of their dashed dreams of becoming doctors, teachers or engineers.

The UN on Saturday condemned the Taliban NGO’s announcement and said it would try to secure a meeting with Taliban leaders for clarification.

“Women must be able to play a vital role in all aspects of life, including humanitarian response. Prohibiting women from working would violate women’s most fundamental rights, as well as a gross violation of humanitarian principles,” the UN statement said. “This latest decision will only further harm the most vulnerable people, especially women and girls.”

UNICEF said the order was “a gross rollback of the rights of girls and women (which) will have far-reaching consequences for the provision of health, nutrition and education services to children”.

Amnesty International called for the ban “to be rescinded immediately” and for the Taliban to “stop abusing their power”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the move on Saturday. “Deeply concerned that the Taliban’s ban on providing humanitarian aid to women in Afghanistan will disrupt life-saving and life-saving assistance to millions of people,” he wrote on Twitter. “Women are at the heart of humanitarian operations around the world. This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid said US officials should “not interfere in the internal issues” of Afghanistan.

“These organizations operating in Afghanistan are obligated to abide by the laws and regulations of our country,” he tweeted on Sunday, adding, “We do not allow anyone to make irresponsible statements or make threats about the decisions or officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for humanitarian aid.

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Three foreign aid groups suspend work in Afghanistan after Taliban bans female workers

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