US condemns ban on female NGO workers in Afghanistan

The United States condemned the Taliban’s decision to order non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan that they stop hiring women, and said that the veto will interrupt assistance to millions of people that is vital and saves lives.

The Afghan economy went into free fall last year after the Taliban seized control of the country and transformed it, plunging millions of people into poverty and hunger.

International aid stopped almost immediately. Sanctions on the Taliban rulers, the suspension of bank transfers and the freezing of billions of Afghan asset reserves have already restricted access to the global institutions and currencies that kept the country’s economy dependent on aid before. the withdrawal of US forces and the NATO.

“Women are crucial to humanitarian operations around the world,” US Secretary of State said Saturday. Anthony Blinken. “This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people.”

The NGO order was part of a letter from Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif. Any organization found to be in breach of the order will have its license to operate in Afghanistan revoked, he said. It is a new blow to women’s rights and freedoms since the Taliban seized power last year and follows extensive restrictions on education, employment, clothing and movement.

The succession of edicts by the all-male, religiously motivated Taliban government echoes the group’s previous rule in the 1990s, when they expelled women from education and public spaces and outlawed music, television and much more. sports.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio GuterresHe said he was dismayed by reports of the order to NGOs.

“The United Nations and its partners, including national and international non-governmental organizations, help more than 28 million Afghans who depend on humanitarian aid to survive,” it said in a statement.

Humanitarian agencies and NGOs were expected to make a statement on Sunday.

The order from the Ministry of Economy was published just days after the Taliban banned women from attending university across the country, prompting international condemnation and demonstrations in large Afghan cities.

Around midnight on Saturday in the western city of Herat, where earlier protests had been dispersed with water cannons, people opened their windows and chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) in solidarity with the university students.

In the southern city of Kandahar, also on Saturday, hundreds of male students boycotted their end-of-semester exams at Mirwais Neeka University. One of them told The Associated Press that Taliban forces had tried to disperse the crowd as it left the evidence room.

“They tried to disperse us, so we chanted slogans, then others joined in with the slogans,” said Akhbari, who gave only his last name. “We refused to move and the Taliban thought we were protesting. The Taliban started firing their rifles into the air. I saw that they hit two boys, one of them on the head”.

A spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, Ataullah Zaid, denied there was a protest. Some people pretended to be students and teachers, he said, but were stopped by students and security forces.

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