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Aid groups resume some Afghan operations with female healthworkers

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2023-01-17T12:08:41Z

A displaced Afghan woman holds her child as she waits with other women to receive aid supply outside an UNCHR distribution center on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Several aid organisations have restored some operations in Afghanistan after they received assurances from Taliban-run authorities that women could work in areas such as health, in spite of restrictions last month barring female NGO workers.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children and CARE said this week they were again operating some programmes, mostly in health and nutrition.

The Taliban administration last month ordered local and foreign aid organisations to stop letting female staff work until further notice. It said the move, condemned globally, was justified because some women had not adhered to the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic dress code.

Many NGOs suspended operations in response, saying they needed female workers to reach women in the conservative country.

“Last week, the Ministry of Public Health offered assurances that female health staff, and those working in office support roles, can resume working. Based on this clarity, IRC has restarted health and nutrition services through our static and mobile health teams in four provinces,” Nancy Dent, a spokesperson for IRC, said.

A spokesperson the Afghan Ministry of Public Health told Reuters that they had not stopped any health-related activities.

“Due to a misunderstanding they stopped their health services and now they have restarted their health services,” he told Reuters.

Save the Children said it had restarted a small number of its operations in health, nutrition and some of its education programs where it had received clear guidance from authorities that female workers could safely operate, but cautioned they were limited.

“The activities we’re working to restart will provide vital assistance, but these activities are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s required,” said Samantha Halyk, a spokesperson for Save the Children.

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