Haqqani rejects lifting women ban: “A kilo or two of aid won’t solve our problems”

Meeting the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Jan Egeland, in Kabul on Monday, Khali Haqqani, the Taliban’s minister for Refugees and Repatriation, demanded that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan should not be conditional on the group’s policies, adding that “a kilo or two of aid won’t solve our problems.”

The head of the Norwegian aid agency is in Kabul meeting Taliban leaders to persuade to reverse their decision banning women from working as aid workers, without whom, he said, his organisation “will not work“.

“NRC’s 469 female colleagues are essential for our aid to 700.000 Afghans. We must be allowed to resume work with all staff, or lives will be lost,” he said in a tweet prior to his meeting with Taliban leaders.

Jan Egeland is on a week-long trip to Afghanistan hoping to convince the Taliban leadership to reverse the ban on female aid workers (Photo: Egeland’s Twitter account)

The Taliban’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation said in a Twitter thread, in Pashto, following Haqqani’s meeting with Egeland that the NRC chief had promised “aid delivery in line with the Islamic Sharia and Afghans culture.” And that the group was “trying to develop a sharia-compliant frame work for women’s work and education.”

Khalil Haqqani is a senior figure in the Haqqani Network and the Taliban government, who usually appears armed with American M4 rifle in official engagements. He carries a $5 million FBI reward for information leading to his arrest.

The NRC is one of the major international aid agencies who suspended their operations in Afghanistan following the Taliban order banning women from working for NGOs.

The Taliban has refused to reverse its decision, defending it as necessary to “protect our women’s dignity and honour.”