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Taliban's internal squabbles are ‘paralysing’ humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, Norwegian Refugee Council warns

THE Taliban’s “internal debates and extreme decrees” are paralysing humanitarian work in Afghanistan, the head of a major aid agency said on Sunday.


Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) secretary-general Jan Egeland is on a week-long trip to the country to meet Taliban leaders about reversing a ban on women working for national and international non-governmental groups which came into effect more than two weeks ago.


The Taliban said that the ban was necessary because women working at NGOs were not wearing the Islamic headscarf correctly.


The ban follows a series of moves that have severely limited or suspended women’s rights and education.


Aid groups, foreign governments and the United Nations say that women are vital for the delivery of life-saving assistance in Afghanistan and are calling for the ban’s reversal. 


Many groups have suspended their operations, warning of dire and deadly consequences for a population already battered by decades of war, deteriorating living conditions and economic hardship.


The NRC said that it has worked in Afghanistan since 2003, employs 470 women and managed to help more than 840,000 people last year.


Mr Egeland will be meeting Taliban leaders in the capital of Kabul and in the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement and the base of the group’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.


Mr Egeland said: “The Taliban’s internal debates and extreme decrees have paralysed our work.”


The NRC chief said that it was impossible to meet the supreme leader in Kandahar but hoped to influence those around him.


Despite initially promising a more moderate rule, the Taliban has widely implemented its strict interpretation of Sharia law.


They have banned girls and women from middle school, high school and university, restricted women from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks and gyms.


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