Kabul. A team of female doctors and nurses made a six-hour journey through mountains, dry riverbeds and unpaved roads in eastern Afghanistan to reach victims of a major earthquake that struck in June last year. More than 1,000 people died in the earthquake. When they arrived there a day after the earthquake, they found that the men had been treated, but not the women.
In Afghanistan’s deeply conservative society, women remained confined inside their tents, unable to seek medical aid and other assistance because there were no female aid workers. “The women’s bodies were still covered in blood,” said Samira Sayed-Rehman, from the relief agency International Rescue Committee. The women came for treatment only after they met the local elders to inform them about the arrival of the women’s medical team. Sameera said, “This situation does not happen only in emergencies.
In many parts of the country, women do not go out to seek help. It’s an example of how important women workers are to humanitarian work in Afghanistan — and it reflects the impact she felt last month after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working in non-governmental organizations, Samira said. Will go The Taliban announced the ban on 24 December. The ban forced the widespread closure of many aid operations run by the organizations.
The organizations said that they cannot and will not function without their women employees. Aid agencies have warned that thousands of people have already been hurt by the disruption of services and that if the restrictions continue, the serious and deadly consequences will be widespread for a population suffering decades of war, worsening living conditions and economic hardship. Aid agencies and NGOs have been keeping Afghanistan alive since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.
Blocking international funding from the occupation, barring transactions in currency reserves and being isolated from global banking, the already fragile economy is on the brink of collapse. NGOs have stepped in and are providing everything from the provision of food to basic services such as health care and education. Following the most recent ban, however, 11 major international aid groups, along with some smaller groups, completely suspended their operations.
They say that they cannot function without their female workers. Many other organizations have also dramatically reduced their work. According to UN Women, a post-ban survey of 151 local and international NGOs found that only 14 percent were still operating at full capacity. Despite the ban, the World Food Program provided food or cash assistance to 13 million people in December and the first week of January. This figure is more than a quarter of Afghanistan’s population of about 40 million.
The extent to which the ban has been implemented and effective is not yet clear, but organizations involved in relief work believe that millions of people have been affected. The International Rescue Committee has suspended all its operations. It estimates that between December 24 and January 9, some 165,000 people missed out on the health services it provides. Sameera says this was the only way for some women to access health care.
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