Afghan UN staff have been told to stay home as the Taliban cited a UN ban on women

UNITED NATIONS/KABUL, April 4 (Reuters) – The United Nations has told some 3,300 Afghan staff not to come to work in Afghanistan for the next two days after Taliban authorities indicated on Tuesday that they would implement a ban on Afghan women working in Afghanistan. world body.

UN spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that UN officials in Afghanistan had “received word of an order from the de facto authorities preventing female national staff at the United Nations from working.”

He said the United Nations was studying the antiquities and would meet Afghan Foreign Ministry officials in Kabul on Wednesday to seek further clarification. About 400 Afghan women work for the United Nations

Two UN sources told Reuters that concerns about the enforcement of the law prompted the organization to ask all employees – male and female – not to come to work for 48 hours. Friday and Saturday are normally the weekend days in Afghanistan, which means UN staff won’t be back until Sunday at the earliest.

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) earlier on Tuesday expressed concern about preventing female employees in the eastern province of Nangarhar from coming to work.

“There were much more official communications that were made in (the capital of Nangarhar province) Jalalabad. We were told through various channels that this applies to the whole country,” Dujarric said, adding that there was nothing in writing.

“Female staff are essential for the United Nations to provide life-saving assistance,” he said, adding that some 23 million people – more than half of Afghanistan’s population – need humanitarian assistance.

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The Taliban administration and the Afghan Information Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the imposition of the ban in Nangarhar, posting on Twitter: “If this measure is not reversed, it will inevitably undermine our ability to provide life-saving aid to people who need it.”

The Taliban administration, which seized power after US-led forces withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, says it respects women’s rights according to its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Since the overthrow of the Western-backed government in Kabul, the Taliban have tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including preventing women from attending university and closing most secondary schools for girls.

In December, Taliban authorities banned most female humanitarian aid workers from working, which aid workers say has made it more difficult to reach women in need and may lead donors to halt funding.

The restrictions did not initially apply to the United Nations and some other international organizations. In January, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed cited concerns that authorities may impose next restrictions on Afghan women’s work in international organisations.

It was not immediately clear whether foreign embassies in Kabul had received similar instructions regarding female staff.

A ban on female Afghan female UN workers could pose significant challenges to the continuation of UN operations in Afghanistan. The founding Charter of the United Nations stipulates that there shall be no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to serve in the United Nations

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Aid officials have also cited the risk of donor countries cutting funding out of frustration with restrictions on women as other international crises continue.

The United Nations has launched its largest single-country aid appeal ever, requesting $4.6 billion in 2023 for assistance in Afghanistan. So far it has been funded at less than 5%.

Additional reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Frank-Jacques Daniel, Mark Heinrichs and Josie Kao

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