Norwegian Refugee Council warns of ‘devastating consequences’ from Taliban ban on women NGO workers News
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Norwegian Refugee Council warns of ‘devastating consequences’ from Taliban ban on women NGO workers

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Secretary General Jan Egeland Sunday warned of the “devastating consequences” of Afghanistan’s continued ban on women non-governmental organization (NGO) workers. The ban stems from a December 25, 2022 Minister of Economy (MoE) directive. Following a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Khalil Rahman Haqqani, Egeland said the continued ban could lead to famine and deprive people of basic living necessities.

During his Sunday meeting with Haqqani, Egeland stressed the need for female staff in delivering humanitarian aid to women and children. Egeland warned that the ban could push 6 million people into famine, leave 600,000 children without education, 13.5 million people without safe water supply and 14.1 million people rendered without protection services.

Egeland promised that the organization is ready to restart aid operations on the condition that both NRC female and male staff members are allowed to reach affected populations. Egeland said that if it were permitted, the organization would comply with all traditional Afghan values for dress, travel and workplace.

Haqqani told Egeland he understood that the situation was now a “real impasse.” Haqqani said the Islamic Emirate tried to provide education and work for women based on Sharia. However, Haqqani noted, humanitarian aid should not be provided on conditions.

Following the ban, NRC issued a joint statement with Save the Children and CARE International temporarily suspending programs that provided lifesaving assistance to millions of Afghans. On Sunday, Egeland said the NRC operations have been paralyzed since Afghanistan instituted the ban. The ban prohibited 469 NRC female colleagues to provide essential aid to 700,000 Afghans.