UN to keep Afghan staff at home over Taliban ban on women

The United Nations said on May 5 that it would continue to allow Afghan staff to work from home after the Taliban administration banned Afghan women working for the world body a month ago.

The UN has about 3,300 Afghan staff, of whom about 400 are women, while about 600 international staff in the country are not affected by the ban. The UN said it would review its actions and keep Afghan staff at home until May 5.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday that there had been no change in “our posture on the ground”.

“We are working to decide on the appropriate course of action,” Haque told reporters in New York. “Obviously, we have a challenge because the needs of the Afghan people are enormous, and we intend to meet those needs, but at the same time, our operations are obviously constrained.”

The Afghan people are in for “very difficult years ahead,” a top US aid official warned this week, as donors challenge the Taliban administration’s crackdown on women and girls, more crises around the world, and less funding overall. Is.

Haque said aid work continues in areas such as health and education where the UN has been able to secure some limited relaxation of restrictions on Afghan women. However, he indicated that some UN agencies may take a different approach.

“I believe that different agencies have different mandates regarding the provision of assistance and therefore they have different ways of handling the situation,” Haq said.

The Taliban seized power in August 2021 as US-led forces withdrew after 20 years of war. It has since also tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing girls’ high schools.

The Taliban says it respects the rights of women according to its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Taliban officials said the decision on female aid workers was an “internal issue”.

The United Nations Special Envoy on Human Rights in Afghanistan and the Chair of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls – both mandated by the UN Human Rights Council – visited Afghanistan between 27 April and 4 May.

“We are deeply concerned about the clear crime of gender abuse in Afghanistan – a systematic and egregious human rights violation and crime against humanity,” they said in a joint statement on Friday.