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UN aid coordinator visits Afghanistan after banning an aid worker

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A senior United Nations official said Thursday that the UN humanitarian coordinator will visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks to meet with potential top officials within the Taliban-led administration after it banned a female aid worker.

News of Martin Griffiths’ trip came a day after the United Nations said some “time-sensitive” programs in Afghanistan had been paused and warned that many other activities may also need to pause due to the ban.

“We regret to see that this decision has already had an impact on our programmes,” Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, told reporters in New York.

Alekperov said the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan were “enormous” and the United Nations was committed to staying and providing assistance. He said the United Nations is actively working to overturn the ban.

On Saturday, the Taliban-led administration announced the ban on female aid workers. This follows last week’s ban on women attending universities. In addition, the girls were banned from attending high school in March.

Separately, 12 countries with the European Union jointly called on the Taliban this week to rescind the ban on female aid workers and allow women and girls to go back to school.

The foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, the United States and the European Union issued the statement.

The Taliban seized power in August last year. They largely banned girls’ education when they were last in power two decades ago, but say their policies have changed. The Taliban-led administration has not been recognized internationally.

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