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Afghanistan faces aid cuts after the Taliban stops more women’s rights

The UN has warned the Taliban administration that its recent crackdown on women’s rights could mean a significant reduction in aid and funding for the country’s development.

The Taliban took over the country in August 2021 and, after a 20-year presence in the country, the US military left Kabul leading to uncertainty about the country’s future. 

Roza Otunbayeva, a Kyrgyz diplomat and politician told the UN Security Council that 28 million people in Afghanistan, or two-thirds of the country’s population, now need aid to survive. 

This has resulted in the largest appeal made for a single country in the UN’s history, with campaigners calling for $4.6 billion in 2023 to provide assistance. 

However, the administration recently introduced laws that include women not being allowed to leave the home without a male relative, a ban on visiting parks or working for aid groups, mandatory face coverings, and a ban on women attending high school or university. 

This has meant that some of the conversations around aid and funding for development and infrastructure projects have come to a standstill in the last few months. 

Otunbayeva told the council that the Taliban’s stance on women’s rights has made it less likely the country will get the help it needs. She said, “Funding for Afghanistan is likely to drop if women were not allowed to work. If the amount of assistance is reduced, then the amount of US dollar cash shipments required to support that assistance will also decline.”

In 2022, the US contributed over $1 billion to the UN’s aid plan in Afghanistan, making it the biggest financial donor, but the State Department is already consulting with the United Nations about the implications of stopping aid deliveries. 

UN Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said the Taliban “systematically deprive women and girls of their fundamental human rights. Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights. It is difficult to understand how any government worthy of the name can govern against the needs of half of its population.”

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