Monday, October 25, 2021

Afghan women could die because Taliban rules block aid, charity says

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Many Afghan women and girls could die because the Taliban’s strict gender segregation prevents medical aid, warns an aid organization.

Non-profit organizations must seek permission from Taliban provincial leaders before their humanist workers can work in the area, said Athena Rayburn, campaign director for Save the Children.

Around 5.5 million people have been displaced in Afghanistan, the vast majority of whom are women and children, she added.

Ms. Rayburn told PA, “Even with our mobile health teams, we are told not to allow female patients to see male doctors.

“If we cannot ensure the protection of our female employees, these people will not receive services and this will result in the loss of human life.

“This is devastating and something that is completely preventable.”

It comes after the Taliban said that no women would become ministers in the Afghan government.

The militant group also said that women and girls are not allowed to go to school unless the teacher in their class is female.

Ms. Rayburn added that Save the Children had seen a huge increase in the number of malnourished children in desperate need of help and that the health system in Afghanistan was “pretty much collapsed”.

Less than a fifth – 17 percent – of the 2,300 World Bank-funded health facilities in Afghanistan have been operating since the Taliban took over the country in August, when thousands of people desperately tried to be evacuated to another country.

Ms. Rayburn said, “It’s a really perfect storm of humanitarian disaster. And it is sure to get worse, and is compounded by the ongoing problems getting cash into the country. “

She said calls from G20 leaders to the Taliban to allow humanitarian access across Afghanistan and keep the country’s borders open are a “step in the right direction” but the UK government must prioritize funding for education.

She said, “Usually education in humanitarian households is not funded because it is not seen as life-saving.

“In our experience, education is categorically life-saving, especially for vulnerable groups like girls.

“In many cases, it can literally be a safe place where their parents know their children will be around several hours a day so they can go out and work.”

She added that the UK must make “qualified exemptions” under its anti-terrorism legislation currently preventing charity workers from providing material aid to certain Taliban leaders.

Since the last US troops withdrew from Afghanistan in August, Save the Children has provided health care and education to more than 40,000 people in seven of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

The charity resumed operations in Kandahar, Kabul, Jowzjan, Balkh, Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar in September after having previously served in these and three other provinces.

A UK government spokesman said: “We are looking for the best way to ensure that critical, life-saving humanitarian aid continues to reach the Afghans who need it.

“We made it clear to the Taliban and our partners that we expect women and girls of all ages to have access to quality education and that their rights must be protected.”

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