Taliban announce ban on Red Cross, WHO in Afghanistan

Published By ITCT News Desk On : April 11, 2019
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Afghanistan: The Afghan Taliban have banned the World Health Organization and the Red Cross from operating in areas under their control until further notice, a spokesman said on Thursday, citing unspecified “suspicious” actions during vaccination campaigns.

The WHO is carrying out a vaccination campaign in Afghanistan, one of the last countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday it had suspended work in Afghanistan after the Taliban announced a “ban” against the humanitarian group and the World Health Organization.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said fighting across Afghanistan had created a “complex situation” and some charitable organizations including the WHO and the Red Cross were not operating in accordance with the situation.

The insurgents, who control or influence about half of Afghanistan, also accused the WHO of “suspicious movements” during a vaccination campaign.

As a result, the Taliban has “decided to ban the operation of these two organizations across the country until further notice,” the militants said, noting they would not guarantee health workers’ safety.

ICRC spokesman Robin Waudo said the organization had put its activities on hold in war-torn Afghanistan, where many in rural areas have scant access to health care and where polio rates are rising.

“We acknowledge this announcement and have suspended our activities in the country due to the withdrawal of security guarantees,” Waudo told AFP.

“Therefore, we are now in the process of contacting the (Taliban) to initiate a bilateral and confidential dialogue in view of the statement.”

The Taliban last August cancelled a “security agreement” with the ICRC, which suspended activities as a result.

According to the Taliban, the ICRC resumed its activities in October following talks.

The number of polio cases worldwide has fallen by more than 99 percent since 1988, but the WHO still considers Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan to be polio-endemic.

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