Afghan aid at risk following ban on women, warns UN

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The UN’s lead humanitarian coordinator has said UN-supplied aid cannot continue if the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) does not lift its ban on women working for humanitarian aid agencies in the country.

Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said UN flights carrying cash for humanitarian aid into Kabul had already been suspended pending a pause in the IEA ban.

Griffiths told the BBC: “Without women working, we can’t deliver for the people who are in fact the primary objects of humanitarian assistance for women and girls. So it’s a practical matter. It’s beyond rights. It’s also practical”.

He added: “There’s a lot of experience in Afghanistan, even today, where there is an edict, but it’s not enforced in a consistent way in different parts of the country. There are parts of the country now where women can work. So we will be doing everything we can to work around and make things work. I don’t want to speculate at this point as to what happens if the edict isn’t universally [enforced], but I have to say, I can’t see how we would continue.

“We will do everything we can to be able to remain and stay and deliver. These are particularly difficult circumstances, I can’t remember a place where we have faced such a series of impediments. But humanitarians spend their lives negotiating, as well as delivering.”

He continued: “We’re there for 28 million people in Afghanistan. It’s the largest humanitarian aid programme in the world and so it’s a body blow against our capacity to deliver.”

The ban was imposed on women working in NGOs three weeks ago.

As many as 150 NGOs and aid agencies have suspended all or part of their work due to the ban.

Griffiths said he would visit Kabul to discuss the ban with IEA officials.—Ariana news