UN tells Afghan staff not to work for 48 hours: Sources

The United Nations has told all Afghan staff not to report to work in Afghanistan for 48 hours for security reasons while it seeks additional information from the Taliban authorities about a ban on Afghan women working for the world body, UN sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

However, in a tweet on UNAMA’s official account on Tuesday, the UN said it “expresses serious concern that female national UN staff have been prevented from reporting to work in Nangarhar province.”

The organization said: “We remind de facto authorities that United Nations entities cannot operate and deliver life-saving assistance without female staff.”

In December, the Taliban issued a decree banning Afghan women from working for non-government organizations (NGOs) and just two months later, a report by Save The Children found that many women and children are missing out on life-saving because of the decree.

An assessment by UN Women in February found that 93 percent of surveyed organizations working in Afghanistan said the ban is impacting on their ability to access women with humanitarian assistance.

Save the Children – along with other organizations – paused activities in the wake of the ban, because female staff are essential for the safe and effective delivery of services and are crucial for reaching women and girls.

Although some activities have restarted where assurances have been received for female staff to safely resume work, mainly in health and education, more than 50 percent of many NGOs operations are still on hold.

The ban on female NGO workers has been widely condemned as the crisis in the country continues. Every two in three people in Afghanistan – a staggering 28 million children and adults – need urgent humanitarian aid to survive.