Griffiths meets Baradar
Martin Griffiths, left, meeting Taliban's First Deputy Prime Minister, Mullah Baradar, right, in Kabul on 25 January 2023.

UN aid chief to Taliban: For God’s sake, rescind the women ban

After three days of meeting Taliban leaders in Kabul, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, told the BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme, that his meetings had made progress in getting the Taliban to lift its “extremely unwelcome” ban on women working as aid workers. 6 million Afghans, he warned, were on the verge of famine.

Martin Griffiths said he was in Afghanistan to meet Taliban leaders to implore them “can you please rescind this ban. If you don’t, let us for God’s sake, find ways to find exemptions and exceptions to allow us to operate.”

 The Taliban’s minister for disaster management, Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund, told the BBC yesterday, that the group will not lift the women ban . But Martin Griffiths said he remained optimistic. “I think they [Taliban leaders] are listening. And tell me they will be issuing these new guidelines in due course, which I hope will help us.”

Afghanistan, the UN aid chief said, with 28 million people depending on aid, “is the biggest aid programme in the world, ever.”