Save the Children, others suspend Afghanistan efforts after Taliban bar on female staff © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Afghan women chant slogans in protest against the closure of universities to women by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 22, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

KABUL (Reuters) – Three big international aid agencies including Save the Children said on Sunday they were suspending their humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan in response to the Taliban-run administration’s order to stop female employees from working.

The administration on Saturday ordered all local and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to send female staff home until further notice because some had not adhered to the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic dresscode for women – a move condemned globally.

Three NGOs – Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International – said in a joint statement that they were suspending their programmes as they awaited clarity on the administration’s order.

“We cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without our female staff,” the statement said, adding that, without women driving the effort, they would not have reached millions of Afghans in need since August last year.

The suspension of some aid programmes that millions of Afghans access comes at a time when more than half the population relies on humanitarian aid, according to aid agencies, and during the mountainous nation’s coldest season.

The joint statement also highlighted the effect of the ban on female staff on thousands of jobs in the midst of an enormous economic crisis.

Earlier, international aid agency AfghanAid said it was immediately suspending operations while it consulted with other organisations, and that other NGOs were taking similar actions.


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