UN tells Afghan workers to stay home until May after banning women workers

(Reuters) – The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan has launched a review of its operations and asked all Afghan staff not to come to work until at least May after the Taliban government banned its female staff from working, it said in a statement on Tuesday .

The United Nations said last week the Taliban, who came to power in 2021, had said Afghan women could not work for the global body. Taliban officials have not commented on the order.

“Through this ban, the Taliban’s de facto authorities are attempting to force the United Nations to make an appalling choice between staying and providing in support of the Afghan people and upholding the norms and principles we are bound to uphold.” UN mission (UNAMA) said.

The UN has said that implementing the order would violate the global organization’s charter.

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It has asked around 3,000 employees – men and women – to stay home until May 5 while it carries out “necessary consultations”, makes any necessary adjustments to its operations and accelerates contingency planning.

The restriction on female UN staff, which followed a ban on most female NGO staff in December, has sparked fierce international criticism.

Some officials have expressed concerns that donors could withdraw their support for Afghanistan’s humanitarian aid program, the largest in the world, and that some programs could not be implemented and women reached in the conservative country without women workers.

The Taliban have imposed a number of restrictions on women’s access to work, education and public life. Taliban officials have said they respect women’s rights in line with their strict interpretation of Islamic law.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield, Editing by Ed Osmond and Nick Macfie)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft

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