Taliban interfering with aid agencies’ activities in Afghanistan

File photo.

Highlighting Taliban’s interference in aid delivery in Afghanistan, a US watchdog in a new report on Thursday said there were 133 access incident reports in January, which included one aid worker being injured and 15 aid workers were arrested.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said other incidents included Taliban authorities conducting the search of an NGO, and 42 incidents where women could not access work.

A Taliban fighter recently fired his rifle into the air at a food distribution event in Afghanistan, an example of their harassment of nongovernmental groups operating in the country, SIGAR said.

Last December, Taliban banned women from working in non-governmental organizations in the country, allegedly because they were not wearing the hijab. The ban was extended to UN offices and agencies in the country in April.

The latest quarterly report from SIGAR cited examples of Taliban interference and harassment of NGOs, including the rifle incident.

The report says that organizations face security risks and harassment at Taliban checkpoints, unannounced Taliban visits to NGO offices, repeated requests for information on work plans, budgets, operations, and personnel, and demands for increased involvement in project decision-making and implementation.

The April ban on women working for the United Nations likely signals that they will “continue to interfere” in NGO operations to the detriment of the Afghan people, according to the report.

The UN told SIGAR that, in addition to the challenges posed by specific Taliban policies, weak Taliban governance and tension between central and provincial authorities make an effective humanitarian response difficult to implement.

“This dysfunction is expected to limit the ability to implement policies which sustain critical public and basic services and reduce needs,” the report said, with the UN telling the watchdog that a “more restrictive environment lies ahead.”

According to the Associated Press report, Taliban’s Economy Ministry rejected the SIGAR claims.

The report comes after a UN summit in Doha about Afghanistan where special envoys and representatives of at least 25 countries had attended.