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UNSC urges Taliban to reverse restrictions on Afghanistan’s women

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan, denouncing a ban by the Taliban administration on women attending universities or working for humanitarian aid groups.

In a statement agreed by consensus on Tuesday, the 15-member UNSC said the ban on women and girls attending high school and universities in Afghanistan “represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The university ban on women was announced as the Security Council in New York met on Afghanistan last week.

Girls have been banned from high school since March.

The council said a ban on female humanitarian workers, announced on Saturday, “would have a significant and immediate impact for humanitarian operations in country,” including those of the United Nations.

“These restrictions contradict the commitments made by the Taliban to the Afghan people as well as the expectations of the international community,” said the Security Council, which also expressed its full support for the UN political mission in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA.

READ MORE: Three foreign NGOs suspend work after Taliban ban on women staff

‘Ban will impair NGOs’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres echoed the Security Council’s message, calling the latest restrictions on women and girls “unjustifiable human rights violations” that “must be revoked.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk pointed to “terrible consequences” of a decision to bar women from working for non-governmental organisations.

“No country can develop — indeed survive — socially and economically with half its population excluded,” he said in a statement issued in Geneva.

“These unfathomable restrictions placed on women and girls will not only increase the suffering of all Afghans but, I fear, pose a risk beyond Afghanistan’s borders.”

“The ban will significantly impair, if not destroy, the capacity of these NGOs to deliver the essential services on which so many vulnerable Afghans depend,” Turk said.

Four major global aid groups, whose humanitarian efforts have reached millions of Afghans, said on Sunday that they were suspending operations because they were unable to run their programmes without female staff.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council last week that 97 percent of Afghans live in poverty, two-thirds of the population need aid to survive, 20 million people face acute hunger, and 1.1 million teenage girls were banned from school.

They had largely banned the education of girls when last in power two decades ago but had said their policies had changed. 

UN officials, Afghanistan NGOs to meet over Taliban ban of women staff

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