Humanitarian aid to Afghans at risk after suspension of NGO activities

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Humanitarian aid to Afghans at risk after suspension of NGO activities

On Saturday, the Afghan Ministry of Economy banned women from working in all NGOs, due to complaints about their clothing.

Four NGOs playing a crucial role in helping the Afghan people announced on Sunday that they could not continue their activities in the country, after being banned the day before from employing women.

We cannot effectively help children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff, say in a press release the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the organizations CARE and Save The Children.

“Beyond the impact on the life-saving assistance we provide, this will affect thousands of jobs in the midst of a huge economic crisis. ”

— The Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE and Save The Children

The International Rescue Committee has said it will not be able to provide services in the country without the 3,000 women it employs.

On Saturday, the Afghan Ministry of Economy in a letter banned all women from working in NGOs and threatened to revoke the organizations' licenses if the measure was not respected.

There have been serious complaints about the non-respect of the Islamic hijab as well as other rules and regulations relating to the work of women in national and international organizations, justifies the ministry.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the NRC, is in shock. It couldn't come at a worse time, he laments.

“The situation is horrible in Afghanistan. Millions of people are freezing. It is freezing cold and they have no adequate shelter. Many are in small roofless or windowless huts.

—Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

According to a recent UN analysis, 20 million Afghans, or half of the country's population, will face severe food insecurity between November 2022 and March 2023.

Two-thirds of the population will require humanitarian aid in 2023, adds the UN.

The work of our organizations provides a service to millions of people, Jan Egeland points out, and several NGOs that have not yet announced the suspension of their activities are preparing to do so, he adds.

Afghan women carrying food boxes distributed by a humanitarian aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In a statement, the UN condemns the new measure of the Afghan government and maintains that such an order goes against the most fundamental rights of women, in addition to constituting a clear violation of humanitarian principles.

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“This latest move will only further harm the most vulnerable people, especially women and girls.

— UN, in a statement

Since the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan in August 2021, restrictions on women's rights multiply.

  • Go to parks and gardens;
  • Attend public and private universities;
  • Attend secondary schools;
  • Travel without being accompanied by a male relative.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says in a press release that this succession of measures will lead to catastrophic humanitarian consequences short term.

With information from Camille Feireisen, CBC/Radio-Canada

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