Taliban’s restrictions on women could lead to suspension of US aid programs, SIGAR warns

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently provided a quarterly report to the US Congress, stating that a review process is underway to determine which US programs may be suspended if women are unable to participate in delivering assistance.

The review aims to ensure that female aid workers can continue participating in humanitarian assistance across the country. International donors plan to coordinate their reviews of the Taliban’s decisions’ impact and discuss their options in August 2023.

This comes following the Taliban’s December 2022 banning of women from employment with NGOs and the UN agencies in Afghanistan. 

The ban was followed by earlier suspension of university education for all female students in early December 2022 in the country, and a prior ban when girls were barred from attending secondary schools in March, steps that have severely restricted the rights and freedoms of girls and women.

| Taliban’s Reign of Terror: UN report exposes executions, stonings, and floggings
| The people of Afghanistan are in for a ‘very difficult year ahead’ warns USAID chief

The Taliban’s each ban promptly sparked widespread condemnation and protests, however with little effect on the Taliban to reverse their hardline decisions. 

In a separate tweet citing the United Nations Officer for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), SIGAR has stated that the UN’s 2023 Humanitarian Plan “aims to reach more than 23.7 million people: 21.7 million with humanitarian needs, 1.1 million cross-border returnees, 691,000 internally displaced people, 200,000 shock-affected people & 52,000 refugees & asylum seekers.”

“Through the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the UN has led international efforts in delivering humanitarian assistance directly to Afghans, including food, shelter, cash, and household supplies. The 2022 HRP was not fully realized with $3.75 billion of the $4.44 billion appeal funded, as of March 2023.” The SIGAR has further added in their report.

Despite the extreme rules implemented by de facto authorities of the Taliban, which has extremely limited girls’ and women’s access to basic human rights, the United States remains the largest donor to the country and has providedmore than $2.1 billion since August 2021.

“Since the Taliban takeover, the U.S. government has sought to continue supporting the Afghan people without providing benefits for the Taliban regime. However, it is clear from our work that the Taliban is using various methods to divert U.S. aid dollars.” Inspector General John F. Sopko was said quoting in the SIGAR report.