A senior UN official Sunday met with the deputy Prime Minister of the Taliban-led, de facto government of Afghanistan after officials introduced a ban against women working in NGOs. The deputy head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan Potzel Markus met Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi in Kabul to discuss the ban, as well as other measures, including a Taliban bar on women from universities.The ban prompted international organisations to cease activity in the Afghanistan at a time when the country is on the brink of famine, economic decline and a brutal winter. UN leaders have commented, “banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans.” The UN body Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) said women are key to the humanitarian aid of over 28 million people in Afghanistan.In a statement, the IASC said:They are teachers, nutrition experts, team leaders, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors, and heads of organizations. They have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach and are critical to safeguarding the communities we serve. They save lives. Their professional expertise is indispensable. Their participation in aid delivery is not negotiable and must continue.The United Nations Secretary General echoed this message, saying:The effective delivery of humanitarian assistance requires full, safe and unhindered access for all aid workers, including women. The reported ban on women working with the international community to save lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan will cause further untold hardship on the people of Afghanistan.

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