Children on an empty street in Afghanistan

Photo credit: Sohaib Ghyasi / Unsplash

RESPONDING to the announcement of a ban on NGOs employing women in Afghanistan, the UK development agency Christian Aid’s Head of Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean and Global Programmes has expressed concern and disappointment.

Ray Hasan said: “Millions of people in Afghanistan are on the verge of starvation. Reports that families are so desperate they have been forced to sell their children to buy food are utterly heartbreaking.

“Imposing a ban on female aid workers will only curtail our ability to help the growing number of people in need, and risks compounding the dire humanitarian crisis that women and girls face. Moreover, this ruling will deeply trouble families relying on the income of female aid workers amidst Afghanistan’s severe economic crisis.

“Christian Aid is rapidly seeking clarity on this announcement and urging the authorities to reverse the ban. While we do this, we are unfortunately pausing the work of our programmes.”

A range of other NGOs have also temporarily withdrawn services while negotiations continue with the government in Afghanistan. They say that it will be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to continue without female staff, especially where single sex services are essential.

They also protest that it would be wrong and unjust to sack local female workers, who will lose essential livelihood. At the time of writing, the ban does not apply to United Nations agencies, who are asking the Taliban to reverse it.

Christian Aid is a global movement of people, churches and local organisations working for justice and peace. It was founded in the UK.

* Sources: Christian Aid and wider agency reporting