The head of a UN humanitarian organization will visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks to meet with top officials of the Taliban-led administration after it banned female aid workers, a senior UN official said Thursday.
The news of Martin Griffiths’ trip came a day after the UN said some “time-critical” programs in Afghanistan were temporarily on hold and warned that many other activities were also likely to have to be suspended due to the ban.
“We regret to see that this decision has already affected our programs,” Ramiz Alekperov, the UN humanitarian aid coordinator for Afghanistan, told reporters in New York.
Alekperov said the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are “enormous” and the UN intends to stay and deliver aid. He said the UN is actively working to lift the ban.
On Saturday, the Taliban-led administration announced a ban on female aid workers. This follows a ban imposed last week on women attending universities. In addition, girls were banned from attending secondary school in March.
This week, 12 countries and the EU separately called on the Taliban to lift the ban on female humanitarian workers and allow women and girls to return to school.
Statements were made by the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and the EU.
The Taliban seized power last August. They largely banned education for girls when they were last in power two decades ago, but have said their policy has changed. The Taliban-led administration has not received international recognition.