US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and Ranking Member Gregory Meeks have called on the United Nations to take a stand against their male-only humanitarian aid implementation following the Taliban’s ban on local women working for the organization.
In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, McCaul and Meeks said the Taliban’s ban on local women working for the UN was unprecedented and that their response to the ban could jeopardize the UN’s credibility.
“Never before has a regime banned women from working for the UN. This ban violates the fundamental human rights of Afghan women and jeopardizes much-needed humanitarian efforts throughout Afghanistan. The UN’s response to these orders contravening the UN charter will have a lasting impact on Afghanistan and on the UN’s credibility,” the two congressmen said in their letter.
The letter comes amid ongoing restrictions against women in Afghanistan, who were banned from getting a university education in December and a few days later from working for non-governmental organizations. Then in April, the Taliban banned local women from working for the UN in Afghanistan.
“Following the Taliban’s December 2022 edict, the group issued an April 2023 order banning Afghan women from working for the UN in Afghanistan, completely cutting women out of all humanitarian aid implementation in the country,” the letter stated.
McCaul and Meeks said that they encourage the UN “to continue its support for Afghan women by opposing and rejecting male-only humanitarian aid implementation.”
“As you know, in December 2022, the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for NGOs. In the months following, criticism mounted against the fractured approach that aid implementers took in response to the edict, and we were gravely concerned to see reports of male-only implementation from some UN agencies in Afghanistan.
“Male-only humanitarian aid implementation contributes to the Taliban’s oppression of Afghan women and girls and further erases them from public life. Without female aid implementers, Afghan women may be unable to receive life saving humanitarian aid and children are more likely to suffer. Women are also critical to the oversight, evaluation, and monitoring efforts of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and are a necessary component of all facets of humanitarian aid programming, especially for ensuring safety of vulnerable populations,” the letter stated.
The congressmen said in conclusion that they strongly urge the UN “to emphatically oppose male-only humanitarian aid implementation. Women are essential to any principled humanitarian response and any credible humanitarian assistance effort in Afghanistan must include the full and safe participation of women and men.”