UAE's UN ambassador condemns Taliban's ban on female aid workers

Lana Nusseibeh says move will exacerbate humanitarian suffering in Afghanistan

Lana Nusseibeh strongly criticised the ban on female aid workers in Afghanistan. Getty
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A senior Emirati diplomat has expressed the UAE's strong condemnation of the Taliban's ban on women from working for aid agencies in Afghanistan.

Lana Nusseibeh, who serves as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation as well as permanent representative of the UAE to the UN, said the move would affect the most vulnerable in Afghan society.

She said the ruling came at a time when two thirds of Afghanistan’s population was in need of humanitarian assistance, and six million people at risk of starvation, in a statement carried by Wam.

She said the decision — coming soon after the Taliban's “indefensible ban on women and girls accessing higher education” — breached a UN Security Council resolution and would “undoubtedly exacerbate humanitarian suffering in Afghanistan”.

The ambassador said Islam honoured the role of women and upheld their rights.

“In this regard, Ambassador Nusseibeh underscored the importance of the full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of life,” Wam reported.

“The UAE will remain steadfast in its long-standing commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, stability, security, and prosperity in co-operation with regional and international partners.”

Ms Nusseibeh said the future welfare of Afghanistan and its people depended on the full inclusion of women and girls in society.

Aid agencies halt operations

On Sunday, aid agencies including Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Care International said that without female staff they would be forced to suspend operations.

On Monday, the UK charity Christian Aid became the fifth foreign aid group to suspend operations, after the International Rescue Committee, which employs 3,000 women across Afghanistan, said it could no longer function under the ban.

The acting head of the UN mission in Afghanistan also met members of the Taliban government on Monday to call for a reversal of the ban, the UN said.

Millions of Afghans are dependent on foreign aid after the country slid into a deep economic crisis following the withdrawal of a US-led coalition in August last year.

The Taliban have already faced fierce criticism for their decision to ban women from attending universities in Afghanistan.

Institutions were told on Tuesday to implement the ban as soon as possible. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said the decision jeopardised international efforts to engage with the Taliban in the interest of the Afghan people.

“The UAE reaffirms that this decision, as well as the earlier bans on girls from accessing secondary education, violate fundamental human rights, contravene the teachings of Islam, and must be swiftly reversed,” said the ministry.

Ms Nusseibeh said Taliban's action was “the latest example of the restrictions imposed on Afghan women and girls since August 2021 aimed at their erasure from public life”.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 9:02 PM