An Afghan woman attends the inauguration of womens library in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 24, 2022.— Reuters
An Afghan woman attends the inauguration of women’s library in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 24, 2022.— Reuters

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council is due to meet privately next week to discuss a decision by Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration to ban female humanitarian aid workers, diplomats said Wednesday.

The closed-door meeting was requested by the United Arab Emirates and Japan for January 13. The UAE announced the request in a tweet.

The ban on female aid workers was announced by the Taliban-led administration on December 24. It followed a ban imposed earlier last month on women attending universities. Girls were stopped from attending high school in March.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths is due to visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks to meet with Taliban officials.

At least four major global groups have suspended operations because they said they were unable to run their programs without female staff.

The United Nations has said that 97% of Afghans live in poverty, two-thirds of the population need aid to survive, and 20 million people face acute hunger.

Last week, G7 foreign ministers called on the Taliban to “urgently reverse” the ban.

The G7 ministers along with those of Australia, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands said in a joint statement they were “gravely concerned that the Taliban’s reckless and dangerous order… puts at risk millions of Afghans who depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival”.

“We call on the Taliban to urgently reverse this decision,” they said in the statement issued by Britain’s foreign ministry.

Aid workers have said that female workers are critical to ensuring women can access aid.

Afghanistan’s already struggling economy has tipped into crisis since the Taliban took over in 2021, with the country facing sanctions and cuts in development aid.

Humanitarian aid, aimed at meeting urgent needs, has provided a lifeline to millions of people. Over half of Afghanistan’s population are reliant on humanitarian aid, according to the International Rescue Committee. 

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