Members of US Congress urge the UN not to accept male only aid delivery in Afghanistan

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, and Ranking Member, Gregory W. Meeks, sent a letter with a bipartisan group of members to the United Nations Secretary-General expressing strong concern over the Taliban’s mandates banning women from working in NGOs and the UN in Afghanistan.

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee members urges the UN to continue its support for women in Afghanistan by opposing male-only humanitarian aid deliveries.

The letter says: “We strongly urge the UN to emphatically oppose male-only humanitarian aid implementation. Women are essential to any principled humanitarian response and any credible humanitarian assistance effort in Afghanistan must include the full and safe participation of women and men.”

Following the Taliban’s December 2022 edict, the group issued an April 2023 order banning women from working for the UN in Afghanistan, completely cutting women out of all humanitarian aid implementation in the country.

“Never before has a regime banned women from working for the UN. This ban violates the fundamental human rights of Afghan women and jeopardizes much-needed humanitarian efforts throughout Afghanistan. The UN’s response to these orders contravening the UN charter will have a lasting impact on Afghanistan and on the UN’s credibility,” the members wrote.

“Male-only humanitarian aid implementation contributes to the Taliban’s oppression of Afghan women and girls and further erases them from public life. Without female aid implementors, Afghan women may be unable to receive lifesaving humanitarian aid and children are more likely to suffer,” they added.

The international community has widely denounced the restrictions on women’s work in UN offices in Afghanistan. The organization previously said it would assess the feasibility of continuing its operations in the country, and announced on Friday that it will continue to keep its staff in Afghanistan working from home.

The Deputy UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, has said that there had been no change to “our posture on the ground” and that the UN is “working to come to decisions on appropriate working modalities.”