AFP, United Nations:
The United Nations said Thursday it would not stop providing help to Afghanistan despite the Taliban ban on women working in the country's aid sector.
"Let me make it very clear that the United Nations and humanitarian partners are very committed to the delivery of life-saving services to the people of Afghanistan," the UN Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, told reporters.
Speaking after the G7 issued a statement calling the hardline Islamists' action "reckless and dangerous," Alakbarov said Afghanistan's humanitarian needs are "absolutely enormous." "We do not believe that it is possible to deliver comprehensive humanitarian action without the participation of women," he said.
However, he added, "It's important that we continue to stay and deliver." "Aid is never conditional. You cannot condition providing food or health assistance to a starving person or a dying person." He said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and other UN officials will visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks to discuss the situation with the country's Taliban rulers, which also recently forbade women from university.
"I believe from my interaction with the Taliban, the best way of coming to the solution is not pressure. It is a dialogue. This movement has not responded well to the pressure in the past." UN officials have already had several "constructive" discussions with Taliban authorities on the situation, he said, citing talks with the health minister.
"Obviously delivery of health services to women and girls will not be possible without medical personnel," he said.
He said the minister agreed that there should not be a barrier and that the women's service providers may return to work.
"We are working under one thing only, and that is the resolution of the bottleneck and getting negotiations going so the women can go back to work and girls can go back to school, based on an understanding that this is an absolutely essential right of other people," said Alakbarov.
"We need to focus on finding the solutions."