UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths and the heads of two major international aid organizations are in Afghanistan a week after the UN’s highest-ranking woman led a delegation to the country with the same goal: Reverse the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls, including a ban on them working for national and international humanitarian organizations.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Griffiths was in the Afghan capital on Monday accompanied by Janti Soeripto, CEO of Save the Children USA, and Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of Care International, as well as Omar Abdi. , Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, the UN agency for children.
Dujarric said last month’s Taliban ban on women working for non-governmental organizations has put some aid programs on hold and is “sowing fears that the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan will worsen further.”
Some 28 million Afghans need food, medicine and other humanitarian aid, “a 350% increase in just five years,” according to the latest report released Monday by the Afghanistan Humanitarian Needs Review. Dujarric noted.
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said last Friday that the delegation led by UN Assistant Secretary General Amina Mohammed found that some Taliban officials were more open to the idea of restoring women’s rights, but that others were clearly against it.
“The fundamental thing is to reconcile the officials who have known and who have been more open, with those who have not been,” Haq said.
Mohammed, a former Nigerian cabinet minister and currently the highest-ranking woman in the UN, was accompanied by Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, an organization that promotes gender equality and women’s rights, and by the undersecretary general of political affairs, Khaled Khiari.
The UN delegation met with Taliban members in the capital Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, but the UN did not release the names of the Taliban officials. The meetings focused on the restrictions the Taliban have imposed on women and girls since their rise to power in August 2021, during the final weeks of the withdrawal of the US and NATO military presence after 20 years of war.
Griffiths is expected to focus particularly on reversing a ban implemented in December, which prevents women from working in non-governmental organizations. The United Nations has pointed out that Afghans play a crucial role in delivering humanitarian aid to civilians, mostly women and children.
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