Afghanistan: World Bank freezes projects over girls’ school ban

Afghanistan: World Bank freezes projects over girls’ school ban

After the Taliban prevented girls from returning to secondary schools, the World Bank halted four projects worth $600 million (£458 million) in Afghanistan.

The programmes aimed to improve education, health, and agriculture, among other things.

The bank had previously stated that they had a “strong focus on ensuring that girls and women participate in and benefit from the support.”

Following months of restrictions, the Taliban reversed a decision to allow the schools to reopen last week.

According to the Taliban, schools would reopen only after a decision on female students’ clothes is made by “Sharia law and Afghan custom.”

An international outcry has followed the decision, and on Saturday, demonstrators gathered near the Ministry of Education in Kabul to demand that the schools be reopened.

The World Bank initiatives aim to provide women and girls in Afghanistan with the same level of access to services as males.

They are supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which was placed on hold last year when the Taliban took control of the country.

At the beginning of this month, the World Bank’s executive board approved a plan to utilise more than $1 billion from the fund to address “urgent needs” in education, agriculture, and health.

According to the idea, the funds would be distributed through UN agencies and aid organisations rather than directly to Taliban officials.

Officials from 10 nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, condemned the Taliban’s activities in a joint statement released on Friday, calling them “very disturbing.”

Meetings with the Taliban that were due to take place in Qatar have also been cancelled by the US State Department.

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