European Union ‘strongly condemns’ Taliban ban on women working for NGOs

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The EU on Saturday condemned the Taliban’s ban on women working for NGOs in Afghanistan and said it was assessing the impact on its aid in the country.

“The European Union strongly condemns the Taliban’s recent decision to ban women from working in national and international NGOs,” a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told AFP in a statement.

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“We are assessing the situation and the impact it will have on our aid on the ground.”

The Taliban have ordered non-governmental organizations in the country to stop women employees from working.

The Taliban government said in a notification to all NGOs that it was because of the “non-observance of the…hijab” by “females” working for the NGOs.

It was unclear whether the directive impacted foreign women staff at NGOs though two international non-governmental groups operating in Afghanistan confirmed to AFP they had received the notification.

The European Union is a major funder of aid organizations that work in Afghanistan. However, it does not recognize the Taliban as the country’s official government.

The Taliban’s decision comes less than a week after it banned women from attending universities, after already having banned teenage girls from high school. Women have also been pushed out of government jobs.

Borrell’s spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said: “Our foremost concern will continue to be the welfare, rights, and freedoms of the people of Afghanistan.”

She said the ban on women working for NGOs “is another harsh restriction on the ability of women in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms and a clear breach of humanitarian principles.”

For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Saturday that the order for women to be barred from working for NGOs would disrupt aid delivery and could be “devastating” for Afghanistan.

“Deeply concerned that the Taliban’s ban on women delivering humanitarian aid in Afghanistan will disrupt vital and life-saving assistance to millions,” Blinken tweeted. “This decision could be devastating for the Afghan people.”

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