19 million facing starvation as foreign aid agencies begin returning to Afghanistan

Afghanistan women destitute - Image Valeriya Popova 22 / Shutterstock.com

Foreign aid agencies have begun to return to Afghanistan after the Taliban government gave assurances that women would be able to work in healthcare.

According to France24 on Tuesday, January 17 at least three agencies have returned with a limited presence. NGOs suspended operations in December after the Taliban banned women from aid work.

The situation in Afghanistan is said to be dire with at least half of the country´s 38 million people starving, whilst around three million children are suffering from malnutrition.

Save the Children said in a statement: “We have received clear, reliable assurances from relevant authorities that our female staff will be safe and can work without obstruction.

“However, with the overarching ban still in place, our other activities where we do not have reliable assurances that our female colleagues can work, remain on hold.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and CARE have confirmed they have resumed work and are using women staff in their health activities.

Despite international pressure and aid being withdrawn the Taliban have continued to implement bans on women from working and educational institutions.

Abdul Rahman Habib, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Economy that ordered the ban, told AFP news that women were allowed to work in the health sector as it was “a need for our society.

“We need them to support the malnourished children and other women who need health services. They (women staff) are working in line with our religious and cultural values.”

The government in Afghanistan have tried to blame women for the ban saying they had not been observing the ultra-conservative group’s rules on wearing the hijab or being accompanied by a male relative.

Women have played a vital park in the country´s aid work, as they do elsewhere, and their banning has had a devastating effect on the ability of aid agencies to provide much-needed assistance.

Following the withdrawal of international peacekeepers last year, the country has suffered under Taliban rule. A slew of banning orders barring women workers led to foreign aid agencies withdrawing support but some are set to return after receiving government assurances.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]